Normal service resumes as Haaland and Dortmund thrash Schalke in Rivierderby
Borussia Dortmund crushed Schalke 4-0 as the Bundesliga season resumed on Saturday, with Erling Haaland predictably impressive. In these unprecedented times, much was made about the uncertainties surrounding almost every facet of football, whether on the pitch or off it. From concerns over how the coronavirus pandemic would impact football finances and the transfer market, to whether or not players would be allowed to celebrate as normal – you name it, it has been discussed at length somewhere during top-level football’s hiatus. But ahead of a joyous – yes, joyous, even without fans in the stadiums – return in Germany on Saturday, there was one fact few will have debated such was its certainty, and it did not take long for us to see the evidence.
Erling Haaland is a colossus.
The Norwegian striker’s rapid rise to prominence is well-documented – there is little new to be said in that regard – but it would have been entirely acceptable to see a little rustiness after two months without any match action, competitive or otherwise. After all, there was a lot of that to be seen in the early exchanges of the Revierderby. Dortmund was ponderous and lacking both drive and invention on the ball, quiet like the scenes in the empty stands and bearing resemblance to a training session. But Haaland was another matter – an early burst into the box in his trademark fashion caused worry, with only a well-timed challenge from the otherwise hapless Markus Schubert in Schalke’s net preventing an easy goal. Within a few minutes, he got rough with Jean-Clair Todibo in the Schalke penalty area, lashed a fine volley into the side-netting from a difficult angle and then opened the scoring. That does not quite do the goal justice, however. On your average highlight reel, it will not necessarily stand out, but it was a goal of sheer class, one that only a select few strikers could produce. As he met Thorgan Hazard’s fierce right-wing delivery, Haaland carefully allowed the ball to come across him and opened up his left foot, guiding an expert finish into the far side of the net in nonchalant fashion following a blistering burst to get ahead of Salif Sane.
There is a mechanical, almost robotic, sophistication to Haaland. Almost everything he does is with the objective of completing his task in the most straightforward and ruthless manner possible. It was his 13th Dortmund goal in 12 matches, making him the quickest to that mark since 1964. He may not possess the elaborate skills of, say, someone like Neymar, but his Terminator-like mind is ensuring Haaland remains a devastating threat.
This mindset was again noticeable for Dortmund’s third goal, as he received a pass inside his own half from the excellent Julian Brandt and began marauding forward, prodding the ball past Sane as he was sent tumbling. Brandt latched on to that pass and then set up Hazard. But like the Terminator, Haaland is also capable of finesse, a trait he exhibited with his intricate reverse pass to tee up Raphael Guerreiro’s second goal in the 63rd minute. While there was little to be surprised about Haaland’s performance, being able to watch the scoring sensation in action again will have been a joy to many after a difficult few months across the world. He’s back – and so is football. Vanguard
The Vanguard NG.