Fitness Challenge: How Guardiola is Dosing Haaland’s Energy
The image of Erling Haaland leaving the pitch at minute 60 after scoring five times against RB Leipzig in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 says a lot about modern football and how top managers have different challenges.
The Norwegian star wasn’t exactly happy about the substitution. But why? Well, if he scored just one more goal, he would break a record: he would simply become the only player ever to score 6 times in a UEFA Champions League match!
But what Guardiola said with that substitution is very simple: the team matters more, and the schedule ultimately speaks louder.
And he has good arguments for that. Man City is chasing Arsenal and trying to lift yet another Premier League trophy, while also trying to win the UCL at once.
Things changed in modern football in the last decades. Not so long ago, doctors were practically the only ones in charge of the players’ health. Now we have big departments dedicated to the fitness of professional footballers. Unlike us mortals that often wonder how often you should see a personal trainer, every day in the office (or training centre) of Erling Haaland and all top-level footie professionals is marked by constant planning, evaluation and chats with physiologists and several different specialists that make sure that the Norwegian star is always capable of being the strong, fast and keen beast that we see these days in the EPL and the UCL.
How Far can Erling Haaland Go?
The records of Haaland are already impressive. Not only he became the youngest player to reach several different records, but he is also taking his team far which is the most important thing.
Silverware, however, is what matters when you are a professional footballer. Agüero helped Man City win several Premiership trophies, but what’s more impressive is Haaland already scored more in the ongoing EPL season more goals than Agüero ever did in a single EPL edition!
Even if Man City fails to win this EPL, Man City has acquired some talent for the long term. Of course, there seems to be some ever impending crisis around new rich teams like Man City and PSG, but we are yet to see any issue that could prevent Haaland to stay in Manchester and have a beautiful history wearing blue like the Argentine star once did.
Moreover, we may also wonder how far he can go with the Norwegian international team. Many, if not most English footie fans probably wanted to see him playing for The Three Lions, as the player was born in England whilst his father was playing on national soil, but he chose to defend the colours of the country that he feels like is his home nation.
Cristiano Ronaldo achieved 2 impressive and unlikely titles with Portugal, the Euro 2016 and the Nations League finals of 2018/19. Could Haaland catalyze a golden era for Norway as Denmark lived in the 90s?
It’s fair to say Portugal has a stronger squad these days, but with the right tactics, and perhaps a ton of crosses, maybe Haaland could take Norway very far, or at least, much further than they would without him in the coming 15-20 years depending on how fitness evolves in the world of football. Not so long ago, many footballers retired at 30, and now many expensive transfers are completed involving players aged 30-35.
Time will tell how long we’ll be able to keep witnessing the fantastic talent of Haaland!