Haaland brings new life for Dortmund


Erling Haaland (Credit: INA FASSBENDER/Getty Images)

Adam Bakr, Men's Soccer Beat Reporter

After scoring 28 goals in 22 games for Red Bull Salzburg, Erling Haaland made the transfer from Red Bull Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund as the German side triggered his $22 million release clause. Dortmund beat out Manchester United and Juventus to sign the 19-year-old Norweigen striker, and he’s instantly shown everyone why some of Europe’s biggest sides were interested in his services. 

Haaland made his Dortmund debut at Augsburg, and came on with his side down 3-1 in the 56th minute. By the 59th minute, he scored his first goal with only his third touch of the game. 11 minutes later, he put Dortmund in front after Thorgan Hazard unselfishly passed up an open goal and squared it to Haaland to tap in his second of the game and put Dortmund up 4-3. The debut was already one to remember, and nine minutes later Haaland was put through on goal by Marco Reus and calmly scored his third to get the debut hattrick. Dortmund would win the game 5-3, and Haaland was the clear man of the match. 

Beyond the goals, Haaland gave Dortmund a new look. Ever since Paco Alcacer scored in eight straight games to start the season, injuries to his Achilles tendon and knee derailed his season and left Dortmund without a traditional striker. The team recently switched to a front three of Reus, Hazard and Jadon Sancho, which has worked but still has its flaws. All three are capable of scoring and are very creative up top, but with all of them being on-ball players and dropping in to get possession, Dortmund rarely has a threat running in behind. Commonly, they would overpass in the box, trying to walk it into the net instead of taking a contested shot. With that, none of the three are towering forces in the box, making headed goals a rare commodity for the side despite the high number of crosses sent in. The height has also deprived the team of any solid hold-up play, meaning any ball to a striker has to go in behind to truly cause a threat. 

Haaland quickly showed that he offers everything the team is missing. For his first goal, he found space behind the defense and quickly got off a perfect one-touch finish into the bottom corner. The second and third goals showed his desire to constantly run in behind a high defensive line. The second was mostly on Hazard’s great work, but the third was a showing on how deceptively quick he is, and how calm he is in front of goal. He also showed the hold-up play he can offer, something Dortmund has not had since Lewandowski left in 2014. 

In his next match, he again came off the bench. It was his home debut, and he came on to a 3-1 lead against F.C. Koln. Koln’s goal came right before Haaland came on, and they were pushing for a second to really put the pressure on Dortmund, who is not foreign to blowing a lead. Once again though, Haaland scored quickly after coming on, this time needing 12 minutes to leave his mark. It may have just been a rebound, but the quick reaction to get there before the defenders while also keeping himself onsides proved valuable. The second is a combination of everything he can bring to the team. He ran in behind the defenders, got to the ball before the goalie, rounded him and calmly brought it back onto his left foot before finishing from a tight angle.

This gives Haaland five goals in just two games, which is the most ever for a player in their first two league games. That’s without even mentioning that he came off the bench both games, tallying his five goals in just 59 minutes of action. The team has outscored their opponents 6-0 in that span, as opposed to the 4-4 score in those same games before his induction. He has already shown massive signs at how he can revolutionize the team, which is crucial if the team is to come back in the league this season and pull off the upset against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.

Contact Adam Bakr at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamBakr14.