European Soccer Update: Haaland Dominates, Barcelona Strikes Back, Man United and Liverpool Struggle

While Erling Haaland and FC Barcelona celebrate important wins over the weekend, Liverpool and Manchester United are on the brink of crisis…

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Vince Kim

At just 22 years old, Erling Haaland of Manchester City is on track to annihilate Premier League records. With his third successive home game hat-trick at the Manchester Derby at the start of October, Haaland set another round of impressive feats after winning 6-3 against Manchester United. Already blazing through the start of the season with nine goals in his first five PL appearances, he also became the first player in Premier League history to ever score three successive home hat-tricks. What makes his performance more remarkable is the fact that he crushed Michael Owen’s previous record of being the fastest player to score three hat-tricks in the Prem. While it took Owen to accomplish this record in 48 matches, Haaland only needed eight. To put this into another perspective, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the same number of hat-tricks in his whole Premier League career as Haaland has. The Norwegian forward is on pace to break Mohamed Salah’s 32-goal record for a 38-game PL season and transform into the most dominant force in world soccer.

Over the first weekend of October, Barcelona became the new leaders of La Liga after Real Madrid’s six-game winning streak came to an end with a draw against Osasuna. Barça managed to secure a narrow victory against Mallorca with a solo goal from Polish forward Robert Lewandowski. After struggling from a financial crisis and poor performances all around, Barça is finally back in their game after an unbeaten run from the start of the 2022-23 season. Meanwhile, despite losing keeper Thibaut Courtois to injury, Real Madrid played Karim Benzema after he recovered from a recent leg injury. Presently, while Barça and Real are both tied at 19 points in the La Liga table, the countdown begins till the El Clásico commences between these two powerhouses at the Santiago Bernabeu on October 16. 

After suffering a 6-3 Manchester derby humiliation, Manchester United still faces a multitude of issues; however, the one issue that manager Erik Ten Hag must solve is his reluctance to start midfielder Casemiro. The Brazilian joined United over the summer through a £60 million transfer signing from Real Madrid, but has yet to start in a Premier League game. Casemiro was instrumental to Real Madrid’s midfield trio last season, playing alongside Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos to lift the La Liga and Champions League titles. Regardless of whether Ten Hag actually wanted the defensive midfielder from the start, the United manager must make a decision to prevent further losses in the 2022-23 season.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are walking on thin ice as they continue to underperform at the start of the season. Winning only two matches in the last nine, the Reds are already behind PL leaders Arsenal by 11 points, and are slowly falling away from another title. Previously anticipated to destroy the Prem with his finishing, Liverpool’s summer signing Darwin Núñez has constantly struggled to meet expectations. Furthermore, last season’s Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah and the whole Liverpool defensive line have failed to execute their tasks effectively. With their next matches against leaders Arsenal and title holders Man City, Liverpool needs to come up with a concrete plan to prevent suffering more humiliating losses.