So…this Erling Haaland kid. Pretty good, eh?
Everyone’s favourite half-man half-cyborg has been at it again this week, scoring goals for fun and humiliating players literally twice his age, but there wasn’t anything ordinary about his strikes in the Revierderby against Schalke.
Edin Terzic’s side came into this one on a run of just one win in their last six games – form which saw their already-slim title hopes evaporate into thin air.
Not only are hopes of glory already gone, but the narrative has changed to the battle for Champions League football. Dortmund, who are already in a bit of a rough place financially, cannot afford to miss out on that kind of cash.
The likes of Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham have been described as ‘transferable’ by the media if Dortmund don’t get that sweet, sweet Champions League money, and losing their young core is a scary thought for any Dortmund fans. It’s probably time to put an end to that miserable form.
Borussia Dortmund were the overwhelming favourites for their meeting with Schalke, and took a deserved lead through fellow wunderkind Sancho, who fired home from the edge of the area with a solid strike and lifted any fears that their recent underwhelming form might continue.
Now, scoring against Schalke isn’t exactly the hardest thing to do these days. After all, they’re bottom of the Bundesliga for a reason. However, Dortmund needed a dominant performance to serve as a pick-me-up, and thanks to Sancho and Haaland, that much-needed boost was just around the corner.
Two minutes after Sancho opened the scoring, he turned creator for Haaland. Popping up on the left, he whipped in a cross towards the sky-scraping Norwegian, but the ball was a little behind him. Haaland would have done well to just bring it under control.
Instead of taking the easier route, Haaland sensed blood. He knew there was a chance to get himself in the headlines again, and he took it.
He stepped away from his defender, catching them off-guard in the process. Nobody felt he was going to try and score, not least because of his size. There’s a good reason that Mary Shelley didn’t have Frankenstein’s monster flipping about in the story. People that size shouldn’t be able to move like that.
Having defied all expectations already in his career, Haaland made it one more as he leant back, extended a gangly leg towards the ball and executed a perfect scissor kick which ricocheted back the helpless Michael Langer, who was as surprised as anybody.
He shouldn’t be able to do that. When you’re so unnaturally big and powerful, movement isn’t normally your friend. The Bundesliga is full of these towering forwards, and almost all of them stand around in the box and wait for the ball to drop to their feet. That’s natural.
The thing is, there’s nothing natural about Haaland.
This is a player who, at 20 years old, has already made a career out of explaining the unexplainable. He shouldn’t have been so good at Red Bull Salzburg, he shouldn’t have taken to the Bundesliga like a duck to water and he shouldn’t have the skillset that he possesses. In the nicest way possible, he’s a freak.
When things are going that well for you, you usually get one or two suitors glancing your way. For Haaland, there are about 1,000 teams begging to snap him up, and Dortmund know they are in for a real fight.
They’ll need Champions League football if they are to convince Haaland that the grass isn’t actually greener on the other side, and performances like this one will go a long way to helping them get there.