Surprise Manchester City star named as Champions League Player of the Tournament – despite Erling Haaland’s 12 goals in 11 European games that led to the title!
- The striking Viking had a blistering season in Europe in his first season for City
- The 22-year-old broke a number of records in the competition and made history
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Erling Haaland was not named Champions League Player of the Tournament – despite scoring 12 goals in 11 games for Manchester City en route to the final.
Pep Guardiola’s side sealed their first-ever Champions League title in Istanbul in June with a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan to tick the remaining box in their quest for a historic Treble.
Whilst not on target on the memorable night, Haaland dazzled in his debut season in City sky blue in the competition, breaking a number of records in his pursuit of his first European title.
With his white-hot performance against RB Leipzig in the round of 16, the Norwegian became only the third player in the competition’s history to score five times in a single match.
Haaland also became the yonguest player to reach 35 goals in the competition, as well as the quickest, taking just 27 games to achieve the feat with Red Bull Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund, and the Cityzens.
Manchester City lifted their first-ever Champions League trophy after defeating Inter Milan
Their unbeaten run was in part fueled by the unique talents of Erling Haaland (centre) in his first season in sky blue
The Norwegian scored 12 goals in 11 games for the Cityzens – breaking records as he went
But despite a blistering run through the competition, UEFA’s Technical Observer Panel chose to name one of Haaland’s team-mates as player of the tournament.
The honour was instead granted to the 23-year-old’s stalwart defensive midfielder, Rodri, who scored the only goal in the final to write Man City into the history books.
The 27-year-old has been a bedrock of Guardiola’s side since joining the team four years ago, and somewhat of a low-key superstar for his unshowy performances anchoring the side’s midfield.
The Spain international was called upon 56 times by his manager last season, and missed only five matches en route to the Treble, featuring more times than anyone else in the squad – although Haaland came closest.
UEFA celebrated their choice – who had the most touches of a football in the entire competition – for his ‘formidable tactical understanding’, with the organisation citing his ‘exceptional awareness of opposition pressure when receiving the ball’ as one of his many skills.
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Ahead of the start of Man City’s 2023/24 campaign, Rodri joked that he had watched his winning goal back ‘5,000 times’.
‘In all the different languages,’ he added. ‘Spanish, English, German, Italian.
‘I think it’s special, it’s part of football to enjoy these kind of moments – especially as a holding midfielder, you don’t feel like you are going to be decisive.’
But the midfielder had harder-to-swallow comments when critiquing the fixture list for the upcoming season, warning of the possibility of player burn out due to the large number of domestic and international ties.
‘I don’t remember exactly the number of games I played, but I had a talk with the club and the coach because it’s not healthy,’ Rodri said.
‘You can do it for one season, but when it’s two or three in a row, it can be worse for the team because your physicality can drop. So I have to watch out. We have already spoken that, it cannot always be like this.
Instead, UEFA’s Technical Observer Panel chose to award Spanish midfielder Rodri the honour
The player has been at the bedrock of Pep Guardiola’s most successful side, playing 56 times
‘The important thing for me is that they know the situation and they know that for the next few seasons we will have to watch out,’ he added.
‘Now I am young, but maybe when I get to 30 or 31 I cannot do this kind of thing, so I have to watch the body because 60 games is not the best thing for a player. Also, the seasons get even longer every year. We have to adapt to this.’
The draw for the upcoming Champions League group stage ties will take place on August 31.
As the winners, and the English champions, Man City will be drawn from Pot One.
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