Champions League leaves latest setback for rising Dortmund star


Since he burst onto the big stage less than three years ago, Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland barely looked back.

The Norway international was still a teenager when he moved from Molde FK to FC Salzburg in January 2019 and scored 29 goals in 27 games for the Austrian team, including spectacular hat trick for Champions League debut.

He then made history scoring 10 goals in his first seven appearances in the competition as Salzburg reached the round of 16 in 2019-20, where they were eliminated by Paris Saint Germain.

After his successful apprenticeship in Austria, Haaland moved to Dortmund in January 2020 and despite making considerable progress, the 19-year-old continued to find the net with relentless consistency.

He once again kicked things off with a hat trick, coming off the bench in the 70th minute with Dortmund 3-1 against Augsburg to almost single-handedly propel his side to a 5-3 comeback victory.

Haaland finished his first calendar year at Dortmund after scoring 35 goals in 34 competitive games. He became the first player to score 25 goals in his first 25 games, breaking a record previously held by the legendary Germany forward Uwe Seeler since the 1963-64 season.

His prodigious form in the Champions League also continued, with the youngster quickly becoming the fastest player ever to score 15 and 20 goals in the competition – taking just 12 and 14 games to reach each respective stage.

However, 2021 has turned out to be a bit trickier for one of the next generations of European football superstars, causing a series of setbacks he will have to overcome and learn from throughout his promising career.

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Out of rhythm in the Bundesliga race

First, Haaland had to watch his rivals Bayern Munich won the 2020-21 Bundesliga title with Dortmund finishing third, around 14 points behind the champions. He also saw Robert lewandowski earn the Torjagerkanone reward as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with ease, scoring a record 41 goals to eclipse his own tally of 27. There was however some consolation in Dortmund winning DFB Pokal, giving Haaland his first trophy in Germany.

Miss Euro 2020

Sadly, the European Championship must have been played in June 2021 without one of the most exciting young attacking talents in the game after Norway’s failure to qualify. Haaland had scored 59 goals in 57 appearances in his first two seasons at Dortmund, with many fans keen to witness his prowess in a major tournament. Sadly, Haaland missed a good chunk of Norway’s qualifying campaign with injury and failed to score throughout, although he did take part in the playoff loss to Serbia which ultimately sealed the fate of his nation.

Miss the world cup

Last week, fate assured that Haaland will also miss playing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Norway again failed in their attempt to qualify. With their star striker sidelined by a hip injury, Stale Solbakken’s side lost 2-0 to Netherlands in their crucial Group G qualifying final – a game they really had to win to have any chance of reaching next year’s tournament. If Norway qualify for the 2024 European Championship, Haaland will be almost 24 years old before finally qualifying for a major final.

Serious injury

Haaland is currently out of action as he faces what could be the longest injury absence of his career, straining his hip flexors for the first time last month. The striker’s father Alfie Haaland recently told Norwegian broadcasters TV2 that he would be surprised if his son returned to the first team before January: “If he gets a few games before Christmas it will be a bonus, but even that is uncertain. . “

Dortmund himself has said his striker, who hasn’t played since October 19, will likely miss between six and eight weeks as he continues on his way to recovery. Dortmund’s last game before the Bundesliga winter break was on December 18. Haaland topped the Bundesliga scoring charts with nine goals in six games before having to miss Dortmund’s last three games as well as a handful of international matches.

Champions League elimination

Dortmund could have really done away with their main striker in the lead on Wednesday as a 3-1 loss versus Sports CP marked the end of their Champions League adventure for the season. Needing to produce at least one draw to maintain realistic hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage, the German side surrendered to the Estadio Jose Alvalade to ensure they play Europa League football. once Haaland returns to the fold next year.

Losing records already

The night Dortmund were kicked out of the Champions League, bad news kept coming for Haaland after seeing one of his competition records spoofed. Sebastien haller, a full flop at West Ham United but miraculously rejuvenated at Ajax, scored his ninth goal in his first five Champions League appearances, scoring twice in the Dutch club’s 2-1 win over Besiktas. Haller’s second goal of the night saw the Ivory Coast Haaland’s best international record of scoring eight times in his first five outings in the competition, which was not set not so long ago.

Of course, while the setbacks may have been thick and quick for Haaland so far this year, if this rough patch is as bad as it gets, then he probably doesn’t have much to worry about. Taken in isolation, most are disappointing twists and turns in a fabulous career that has already launched into the stratosphere with a meteoric trajectory.

Hopefully this is a delicate time that Haaland can look back on in the years to come and see as a momentary hiccup that ultimately prompted him to do even bigger and better things.

He may have missed the Euro, the World Cup and the final stages of the Champions League in relatively quick succession, but something tells us he will be fine in the long run.





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