“Of course, Haaland is only 19, he’s not fully matured yet, but in football you need this raw goalscoring instinct. He’s got that.”
The raw goalscoring instinct was on display for all to see last month as Erling Haaland scored twice in eight minutes to lead his team to a 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie. It continued Haaland’s remarkable start to life at Borussia Dortmund after making the €22.5 million move from RB Salzburg.
In an exclusive interview with Stats Perform, Fritz von Thurn und Taxis, the legendary commentator in Germany, shared his thoughts on the Norwegian wonderkid and the first true Bundesliga title race in years.
The interview was part of Stats Perform’s exclusive interviews video package, which provides broadcasters and digital publishers unique, one-on-one content from the biggest names in global sport. The package combines our journalistic and editorial expertise with a specific focus on global sports personalities, making these videos an ideal tool to drive high volumes of user engagement and provide your programme, website, app or social channel with unique, high-quality content.
Fritz von Thurn und Taxis is widely known in the DACH region after a glittering career as a sports journalist and football commentator. He worked for some of the biggest names in the business, including pay TV broadcaster Premiere, as well as Sky Sports, and Eurosport.
The Emergence of Erling Haaland
Since moving to Dortmund in January 2020, Erling Haaland’s star has risen astronomically. His Dortmund adventure got off to the perfect start on his debut against Augsburg. Trailing 3-1, Lucien Favre sent on the teenager from the bench and was rewarded with a 22-minute hat-trick to help secure his side a 5-3 win. In doing so, Haaland became the second player in the club’s history to score a hat-trick on league debut, behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
With 12 goals in his first eight competitive matches, Haaland has been tearing up the record books. No other player has scored as many goals in their first eight games for a Bundesliga club, and his remarkable goals tally means that Haaland is finding the back of the net in the Bundesliga once every 44 minutes – another Bundesliga record.
The scary thing is, he’s just 19 years old. His double against PSG means that he has reached double figures in the Champions League four games faster than any other player in the competition’s history, and is the only teenager to reach double figures in a single season. The later is a feat that not even Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo achieved.
For Thurn und Taxis, Haaland is a physical freak of nature:
“He’s got a unique mix of speed, bounce and dynamism that makes him special. I have never seen someone at a similar age display such characteristics.”
Combine those attributes with a raw, natural goalscoring instinct and a side that plays aggressive, attacking football like Dortmund, and there’s no telling how far Haaland can go.
The Bundesliga Title Race
After nearly a decade of Bayern dominance, the Bundesliga is seeing a genuine title race this season. The top three, Bayern, Leipzig and Dortmund are separated by just four points, and if fourth place Mönchengladbach win their game in hand they can join Leipzig in second place.
The first half of the season gave everyone outside of Munich hope. Bayern looked devoid of ideas under Niko Kovac, who was sacked after suffering a humbling 5-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt that left the club languishing in fourth place.
Much to the disappointment of Bayern’s rivals, their fortunes improved after Hansi Flick took charge. After losing back-to-back games against Leverkusen and Gladbach, Bayern have been ruthless. They are unbeaten in 2020 and have won seven of their last eight games. The title is very much in their hands.
Who can stop them? All eyes will look ahead to the mouth-watering match-up between Bayern and Dortmund in Matchday 28, but in truth, the chasing pack’s destiny is not all in their hands. Each needs to hope that Bayern slip up, while they finish the league strongly.
For Fritz von Thurn und Taxis, all talk of a title race is just speculation. He is confident that Bayern machine will emerge victorious at the end of the season:
“Their saying, “Mia san Mia” [“We are who we are”], captures their complete will to succeed. For Bayern, there is no middle ground, only victory.”
We’ve reached the point in the season where every team in the title race feel the pressure to win every single game. In Thurn und Taxis’ opinion, this is an attitude that is so internalised at Bayern Munich that it has become woven into the very fabric of the club. In his eyes, there is no alternate reality, no other option other than seeing the Bavarians with the trophy in their hands come the end of the season.
If there are to win their eighth successive Bundesliga crown, they’ll need to do so without the help of striker Robert Lewandowski, who suffered a knee injury against Chelsea in the Champions League. He’s likely to miss the next four weeks of action.
We will only find out in May whether Thurn and Taxis is right in his assessment. Haaland and Co. will do everything in their power to break Bayern’s stranglehold on the Bundesliga, but they will need to all do their bit to have a chance to lift the trophy at the end of the season.
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