Pep Guardiola said Manchester City did not have to "add many things" to Erling Haaland's game following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, describing the in-form Norwegian as an "exceptional striker".

Haaland won the Premier League's Player of the Month award for August on Friday, having scored an incredible nine goals during his first calendar month in the competition.

The Norwegian has continued his goalscoring exploits in September, downing Sevilla with a Champions League double before haunting his former club Dortmund with a spectacular acrobatic finish as City beat the German side on Wednesday.

Having scored in City's last Premier League outing at Aston Villa, Haaland could become the first player in the competition's history to net on each of his first four away appearances when he lines up at Wolves on Saturday.

Asked whether 22-year-old Haaland is already the perfect forward, Guardiola said: "He's an exceptional striker, I said many times.

"But the age he is, I think his ambition is he wants to be better, and he will be better. He's a perfect person, a nice guy, this is the most important.

"With the quality he had before he came here, he has just continued to do what he has done. We didn't add many things."

Since losing both of their league meetings with Wolves in the 2019-20 season, City have won each of the teams' last four head-to-head fixtures by an aggregate score of 13-3.

Although Wolves have managed just one win from their first six games of this campaign, Guardiola is impressed by Bruno Lage's attempts to move them towards a more possession-based style of play, and expects a tough challenge.

"It's a completely different team than it was the previous seasons, they played five at the back with [Conor] Coady, now they decide to play with four," Guardiola said.

"I'm really impressed by the way they play, their position in the table is because football is unpredictable and sometimes you don't get what you deserve. They have a lot, a lot, of good things.

"They are one of the toughest opponents we've faced in the last seasons, and tomorrow will not be an exception. We had less recovery, so we have to be mentally prepared. Otherwise, it will be difficult.

"Give credit because what I've seen is completely different to previous seasons, [they would] sit back, just defend, have that transition with Adama [Traore], [Pedro] Neto.

"They still have that, but they added a completely different approach to the past. I respect Wolves a lot for what happened in the past but especially now for what they are trying to do."

City could be the first team to face Diego Costa since his return to the Premier League, with Lage revealing on Friday he hoped to have the former Chelsea striker available.

Asked about the potential presence of the fiery forward, Guardiola said: "Diego Costa has had an incredible career here and in Spain, we know his quality. We'll adapt in case he'll play."

Guardiola refused to be drawn on the debate surrounding a prospective Premier League all-star match, the idea that was suggested by Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly this week.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp declared fans would not want to see that particular addition, but Guardiola would not join him in criticising the idea.

"I don't have an opinion, not at all," Guardiola said. "If they give me the dates they will play, it should be nice. But I don't have an opinion."

Erling Haaland has been rewarded for a scintillating start to his Manchester City career by being named the Premier League's Player of the Month for August.

Since arriving in England from Borussia Dortmund, Haaland has scored nine goals in five outings during his first month in the Premier League.

That tally is the highest ever managed by a player in their first five appearances in the competition and included back-to-back hat-tricks in City's high-scoring wins over Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.

In August, Haaland averaged a goal every 44 minutes of league action, or every 12 touches of the ball, as well as converting from 41 per cent of his shots.

The Norwegian has also gone from strength to strength since the month ended, hitting a Champions League brace at Sevilla before returning to haunt Dortmund with a magnificent goal in City's comeback success on Wednesday.

Having also scored at Aston Villa in City's first outing of September, Haaland has netted in each of his first three away Premier League games.

Should he score against Wolves at Molineux on Saturday, he will become the first player to get on the scoresheet on their first four road trips in the competition.

Haaland saw off competition from seven other nominees to win the award, including former City striker Gabriel Jesus, who has impressed at Arsenal, and Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic, whose tally of six Premier League goals this season is second only to Haaland's 10.

Erling Haaland and Casper Ruud are flying the Norwegian flag high at the top of their sports, with Brighton and Hove Albion Women's new recruit Elisabeth Terland inspired by her compatriots.

Norway international Terland left SK Brann for Brighton in August and will hope to make her Women's Super League debut on Friday against Arsenal.

The 21-year-old, who has 13 international caps, referenced the rapid start Haaland has made to life at Manchester City, where he has scored 13 goals in just nine appearances since leaving Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland enjoyed a reunion with his former club on Wednesday, netting a sublime acrobatic finish to take his tally to 26 goals in 21 Champions League appearances – a strike every 62 minutes on average.

With City's new recruit taking the Premier League by storm, Terland hopes to emulate her fellow Norwegian as she prepares for a new challenge in England.

"The things he's doing at the moment are sick. It's just cool to see how a player can come into a new league and come into a new team and just perform time after time," she told Stats Perform. 

"Of course, it's inspiring. Everybody from Norway is really proud of him and what he's doing. Everybody is supporting him. He's a good product of our country."

While Haaland has made a flying start at City, tennis player Ruud reached his second major final of the season at the US Open.

Carlos Alcaraz proved a step too far for Ruud in the battle for the world number one spot at Flushing Meadows on Sunday, but the 23-year-old is another compatriot serving as inspiration for Terland.

"I did watch a little bit [of the US Open final]. It was quite late. Of course, it's just as inspiring to see people doing well in [other] sports," she added.

"That makes you want to do well in sports as well. [He is] a great athlete and does it time after time as well. Hopefully, next time he will win."

Erling Haaland's sensational winner against Borussia Dortmund echoed two greats in the form of Johan Cruyff and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Haaland netted with an acrobatic 84th-minute volley from Joao Cancelo's expert centre to seal three points for City against his former club in the Champions League on Wednesday.

It marked a fine turnaround after John Stones had already cancelled out Jude Bellingham's opener with a fierce long-range hit at the Etihad Stadium.

For City boss Guardiola, Haaland's athletic effort drew comparisons to Cruyff's famous strike for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid in 1973 – often referred to as the 'ghost goal' due to the scarcity of the available quality footage.

"Maybe the people who know me, you know the influence Johan Cruyff had in my life, as a person, an educator, a manager and mentor, everything," Guardiola said.

"Johan Cruyff, years and years ago at Camp Nou he scored an incredible goal against Atletico Madrid. It was quite similar. The moment he scored the goal I thought, Johan Cruyff.

"It was quite similar. It was a really good one. The pass from Joao is exceptional, he has the ability to do this kind of thing. Simple things, every ball he has, he has to make this kind of action, I know he can do it. That's football, you cannot force it. He made an incredible assist pass and the finishing from Erling was exceptional."

While Guardiola idolises Cruyff, he had a much tenser relationship with one of European football's modern greats, Ibrahimovic.

The striker spent just a season at Barcelona during Guardiola's tenure and the two did not see eye to eye.

Yet Guardiola sees the similarities in skill level between Haaland – who is now the youngest player in Champions League history to score for and against the same side in the competition – and the Milan forward, though he could not resist a sarcastic quip.

"The first impression that I had, I remember a little bit my friend, my dear friend Ibrahimovic, had this incredible ability to pull back in the air, you know, and Erling is quite similar on that," Guardiola added with a smile.

"He is elastic, flexible and to have that ability to make the contact to put it in the net. He is mature, and he has that flexibility."

The game marked Guardiola's 150th Champions League match as a manager, and he brought up his 95th win. Only two managers have won more games in the competition’s history – Alex Ferguson (102) and Carlo Ancelotti (100).

However, it was not an easy ride, with City performing well below their level until Dortmund took the lead. Indeed, their two goals came with their first two shots on target.

"We had a lot of problems to get our rhythm, we were so passive, our movements to be aggressive," explained Guardiola, who compared the match to the last time City met Dortmund, in the Champions League quarter-finals in April 2021.

"Yes, we struggled, we played in the wrong gear. We are who we are, win or lose, the way we played in the last 30 minutes, when we realised we were 1-0 down. We gave it another rhythm.

"The Champions League doesn't wait, it doesn't forgive you. They defended really well, hopefully we can learn the lesson for Saturday, against one of the toughest opponents we've had in the last few years against Wolves, and hopefully it will help us against Dortmund in the [return match]."

Erling Haaland always expected a tough game against former employers Borussia Dortmund but said "they didn't stop me" after scoring a superb winner in Manchester City's 2-1 comeback triumph.

City were up against it in Wednesday's Champions League encounter when Jude Bellingham nodded the visitors ahead after the break.

But John Stones rifled in a long-range equaliser, which proved the precursor to a moment of genius from Haaland, who produced a stunning acrobatic volley to break the hearts of his former club.

Haaland's stunning intervention came just a day after Dortmund defender Nico Schlotterbeck declared he was well-equipped to stop the Norwegian, shattering a resolute defensive display from BVB.

City's goals – scored in the 80th and 84th minutes – came from their first two shots on target in the match, and Haaland acknowledged how tough it had been for him to make his mark. 

"They didn't stop me. I scored. They played well, they were good," Haaland, who at the age of 22 years and 55 days old is now the youngest player in Champions League history to score both for and against a single club, told BT Sport.

"They were good. I was quite sure I was going to be followed the whole game because Edin [Terzic] knows me very well. Dortmund were really good today. In the end, the three points is what matters.

"This is what we are, and this is why we have to play. In the end, I'm proud of the last 20, 25 minutes. 

"Two wonderful goals today, mine was a bit better, honestly! In the end, a really important win."

City have now gone unbeaten through their last 21 home Champions League games (W19 D2), the longest such sequence by an English club since Chelsea also went 21 without defeat between September 2006 and December 2009.

Just as belief was drifting away from the Etihad Stadium, Stones' 20-yard strike whistled past Alexander Meyer to get the hosts back on terms – the England defender's first goal from outside the penalty area for club or country.

Stones explained he had taken up his advanced position for defensive reasons as he acknowledged City did not meet their usual standards for long periods.

"The manager wants us in those sorts of areas for things like that, and to control the counter-attack as well, we're in good positions for balls that come outside the box," Stones said.

"It was one of those things, I was getting a few shouts and just decided to pull the trigger.

"It was difficult, we were definitely not at our best. In the first half we made it difficult, we didn't play at the tempo we should have, we didn’t use the ball well, we had a lot of sloppy passes.

"So at half-time we had some stern words between each other and tried to change that for the second half, and I think we did."

Dortmund goalscorer Bellingham, meanwhile, acknowledged the quality of Haaland's finish in his own post-match interview, saying: "That shows his quality, you know? 

"He's not always in the game, but you know if you give him half a sniff, he can make a goal. That's what he did tonight."

City's win moved them three points clear of Dortmund at the top of Group G ahead of back-to-back meetings with Copenhagen in early October.

Manchester City bought Erling Haaland to be the difference on nights like this.

In cagey Champions League matches, against Europe's top sides, the striker was the player who could turn possessional dominance into victory.

Yet for 84 frustrating minutes against his former club Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, Haaland toiled. World-class players – strikers especially – only need a moment, a split-second, however, to do the damage.

And so it proved, when Joao Cancelo lofted in a left-wing cross to the back post that mere mortals could not have reached. But Haaland, now the youngest player in Champions League history to score for and against the same side in the competition, is no mere mortal.

Nico Schlotterbeck had told the press he "knew how to stop Haaland". The centre-back, named on the bench after playing in a 3-0 Bundesliga defeat to RB Leipzig at the weekend, had been on the pitch just six minutes when Haaland somehow met Cancelo's delivery and, in mid-air, prodded a finish beyond Alexander Meyer. His 13th goal of the season. It is mid-September.

It completed a four-minute City turnaround, from 1-0 down to 2-1 up – John Stones having cancelled out Jude Bellingham's opener with a rocket from the edge of the area, albeit one Meyer might have done better with.

Not that this was a vintage City display, by any means. Up until Stones' equaliser, they had laboured, failing to test Meyer. Indeed, the loudest the home crowd had been before then was after Haaland had struck the outside of the post from a near-impossible angle with his first true sighting of goal, and prior to that, it was a chorus of "you're just a s*** Bayern Munich" directed at the vociferous visiting fans, who were in great voice throughout.

Bellingham's opener did not come against the run of play, either. City had 64.1 per cent possession in the first half but managed just four attempts. None were on target and three, from Jack Grealish, were easily blocked.

Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure, but whatever he said to his side at half-time did not have the desired impact. Dortmund came out of the blocks, Marco Reus slicing just wide before he provided the cross-shot for Bellingham to nod home, becoming the highest-scoring English teenager in the Champions League in the process.

Bellingham scored one of his other three Champions League goals on the last occasion these sides met, in the 2020-21 quarter-finals. Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden scored in a 2-1 win for City, sealing a 4-2 aggregate victory. 

Haaland, then in a Dortmund shirt of course, had 25 touches on that occasion. Only one of those came in the box, and he had just one attempt, failing to hit the target with it. He finished with 26 touches before being taken off to a standing ovation this time out, but 14 of those were in BVB's area.

Ilkay Gundogan, another ex-Dortmund star, had suggested in his pre-match press conference that City had to show more patience in regards to getting the ball into their number nine, but there is a fine balance to be struck and it was only when Foden came on – as part of a treble substitution in the wake of Dortmund's goal – that the hosts started to click into gear.

Whereas Grealish looked to chop inside, Foden's directness offered City a different dimension, putting Thomas Meunier on the back foot. Indeed, only a brilliant Mats Hummels intervention prevented Haaland getting on the end of a sharp Foden cross.

And it was getting the ball in sharply that finally set the stage for Haaland to prove the difference, to back up the reason City bought him. For nights like this. So well-shackled by his former club, one quick ball – from a situation where Cancelo had been far too content to play the safe option previously – provided the Norway international with the ammunition.

He does not miss. And for City, it means even on an off-day, they got the job done. Come the season's end, it might just prove to be the factor that ends their hunt for European glory.

Erling Haaland came back to haunt his former club with a stunning acrobatic winner as Manchester City came from behind to earn a hard-fought 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland, who averaged over a goal per game in the Champions League during a two-year spell at Dortmund, met Joao Cancelo's fine cross with a sensational backheeled volley to seal the hosts' victory in the 84th minute.

City had appeared set for a surprise defeat when Jude Bellingham nodded Dortmund ahead after the break, only for John Stones' long-range effort to beat Alexander Meyer for the leveller.

Having been kept quiet by Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule for the majority of the contest, the indomitable Haaland came good in sensational style late on to ensure City preserved their perfect start to their Champions League campaign.

Erling Haaland was handed a start against his former club in Manchester City's Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland scored twice in City's 4-0 rout of Sevilla last time out and Pep Guardiola had no issue starting the striker against his old side on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old has scored 25 goals in 20 Champions League appearances, the most by any player in their first 20 games in the competition. He netted 15 in 13 games with Dortmund and could become just the second player to score a Champions League goal both for and against the German side, after Ciro Immobile.

Haaland is the first City player to score on both his Premier League and Champions League debuts for the club, and was one of three former Dortmund players named in Guardiola's XI at the Etihad Stadium.

Captain Ilkay Gundogan started in midfield alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri, with Manuel Akanji – who greeted his former team-mates on the pitch before kick-off – in defence, with John Stones, Nathan Ake and Joao Cancelo making up the rest of the back four ahead of goalkeeper Ederson. Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish flanked Haaland.

Another former Dortmund player, Sergio Gomez, was named among the City substitutes.

While Guardiola made four changes to the team that started against Sevilla, Dortmund boss Edin Terzic made three alterations to his team from the one that featured in the win over FC Copenhagen last week.

Emre Can, Mats Hummels and Giovani Reyna replaced Julian Brandt, Thorgen Hazard and Nico Schlotterbeck.

Todd Boehly's suggestion for the creation of a Premier League 'All-Star' game attracted plenty of ridicule, but he certainly can't be accused of a lack of vision or creativity.

The new Chelsea co-owner – and chairman and interim sporting director – was speaking at a conference on Tuesday when he proposed the Premier League 'Americanised' (or should that be 'Americanized'?) itself a bit.

A relegation play-off tournament between the bottom four teams was one idea; but the other, which attracted most of the headlines, was for a North v South 'All-Star' game, pointing out Major League Baseball (MLB) in his native United States made $200million from such an event this year.

A potential Premier League 'All-Stars' game was the talk of football media on Tuesday, so at Stats Perform we decided to have a look at who might line up for the North and South.

It was decided the north-south cut-off point would see Nottingham Forest qualify for the North, ensuring each All-Stars team had 10 clubs to select from.

First up, we have unrestricted squads, so essentially the very best teams possible; then, we have squads that are limited to three players from each club and every single Premier League must have at least a single player selected. So, without any further ado, let's see who made the cut…

NORTH ALL-STARS (unrestricted)

4-3-3: Ederson (Manchester City); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool); Rodri (Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Phil Foden (Manchester City); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Erling Haaland (Manchester City), Luis Diaz (Liverpool).

SUBS: Alisson (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Raphael Varane (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Fabinho (Liverpool), Casemiro (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

You knew the starting XI was going to look like that even before reading, didn't you? Manchester City and Liverpool obviously dominated the first team here, but it feels difficult to argue with almost any selection here.

The goalkeeper choice was probably the toughest, but only because Ederson and Alisson are both so strong and simultaneously significantly better than any other eligible shot stoppers in terms of their all-round game – Ederson ultimately got the nod owing to 13 more clean sheets over the past three-and-a-bit years, but either could've got the gig.

Similarly in defence, many of the North's options pick themselves. The centre-backs, Van Dijk and Dias, have each won the Premier League Player of the Season award in the past four years, while Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have at least 12 most assists than any other defender since the start of the 2019-20 season.

While the defence had a distinctively Liverpool look to it, City dominate the midfield because… well, they tend to dominate the midfield. Rodri provides the control and defensive protection, while Foden and De Bruyne can wreak havoc going forward and towards the flanks.

Salah and Haaland were obvious picks in attack. The Egyptian has been involved in 96 goals (66 scored, 30 assisted) since the start of the 2019-20 season, more than anyone else, while Haaland is arguably the most in-form striker in world football, having already netted 12 times in seven games for City.

Luis Diaz was perhaps the most uncertain one, but he's quickly become a key figure at Liverpool. His ability to cut inside or head for the byline makes him an unpredictable asset, and he's something of a double threat in terms of goals and creativity.

Cristiano Ronaldo's appearance on the bench owes much to his solid goal-scoring form last season.

SOUTHERN ALL-STARS (unrestricted)

4-2-3-1: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham); Reece James (Chelsea), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal); Declan Rice (West Ham), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea); Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Son Heung-min (Tottenham); Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal).

SUBS: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marc Cucurella (Chelsea), Jorginho (Chelsea), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Martin Odegaard (Arsenal), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

This team has it all. A World Cup-winning goalkeeper, a defence with an ideal blend of youth and experience, a combative midfield and four world-class attackers.

Lloris gets the nod in net. He's been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the league since his arrival from Lyon 10 years ago, and based on Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) conceded metric, Lloris has prevented 3.8 goals since the start of the 2020-21 season, significantly better than his South All-Stars back-up, Chelsea's Edouard Mendy (-3.8).

Chelsea star James is the right-back, with his 16 goal contributions (six goals, 10 assists) since the start of last season topping the charts for a defender. Koulibaly and Romero are a formidable centre-back pairing, while Zinchenko has four Premier League titles to his name from his time at Manchester City.

James and Zinchenko are brilliant attacking full-backs, but the defence will need screening, and that is where Kante and Rice come into their own. Both super ball-winners, Kante's relentless energy will be complemented by Rice's ability on the ball, as he has demonstrated at West Ham.

That midfield protection will be needed, with a four-pronged attack ready to lay waste to the North's defence.

Sterling might not have made a flying start at Chelsea but is the best pick on the right wing, with Son – who shared the league's golden boot award last season – on the opposite wing. Kane will play a slightly deeper role, behind Jesus, who has had more touches in the opposition box (66), attempted more dribbles (34), more dribbles in the box (8) and won more fouls (21) than any other player in the Premier League this season.


4-2-3-1: Jordan Pickford (Jordan Pickford); Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Vigil van Dijk (Liverpool), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Pedro Neto (Wolves); Erling Haaland (Manchester City).

SUBS: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Diego Carlos (Aston Villa), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Renan Lodi (Nottingham Forest), James Maddison (Leicester City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Jack Harrison (Leeds United), Antony Gordon (Everton), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

Our self-imposed restrictions of no more than three players from a given team gives the North All-Stars a distinctly different feel – nevertheless, Van Dijk, Dias, Robertson, De Bruyne, Salah and Haaland retain their places, for obvious reasons.

Probably the biggest casualty is Alexander-Arnold, but the North benefits from having another excellent forward-thinking option at right-back in Trippier, while Jordan Pickford starts between the posts – David de Gea was another option here, but the England international is better with his feet.

Bruno Guimaraes comes into the midfield, offering a valuable combination of bite and craft, while Fernandes will take up the number 10 position with De Bruyne dropping a little deeper – this shouldn't stifle the team's creativity too much given the Belgian is the only player with more chances created (239) than Fernandes (224) since the latter's Premier League debut.

The other new face in attack is Pedro Neto. Perhaps a wildcard choice, but the Portugal international is an exciting winger with lots of pace and trickery. While Salah will cut in off the opposite flank, Neto looks to get crosses into the box, and that could be an effective route to goal knowing the predatory instincts Haaland has.

Again, Ronaldo is held back in reserve.


4-3-3: Robert Sanchez (Brighton and Hove Albion); Reece James (Chelsea), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal); James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Declan Rice (West Ham), Mason Mount (Chelsea); Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Son Heung-min (Tottenham).

SUBS: Neto (Bournemouth), Ben Mee (Brentford), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton and Hove Albion), Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

Robert Sanchez has been a standout performer for Brighton under the now Chelsea boss Graham Potter, and he replaces Lloris now the restrictions have come into play. He has kept 24 league clean sheets since making his debut in November 2020, which trails only four other goalkeepers.

James, Romero and Zinchenko all keep their places in defence, though Koulibaly does not. He makes way for Joachim Andersen, who has been excellent since signing for Crystal Palace in 2021.

We have switched to a midfield three for this side, with Rice staying in the team but playing a deeper, anchoring role. Alongside him are two new faces in the form of England team-mates Ward-Prowse and Mount. Both provide energy and creativity in abundance.

Ward-Prowse's set-piece quality – no midfielder has scored more goals or created more chances from set plays since the start of last season as the Southampton captain – is a huge threat, while Mount has contributed to 21 league goals since the beginning of 2021-22.

Jesus is the unlucky striker to drop out of the starting XI, though he is on the bench, with Sterling, Kane and Son leading the line.

Pep Guardiola does not like predicting the future.

Before a ball had been kicked this season, Manchester City's manager refused to solidify his team and Liverpool as favourites to push for the Premier League title again.

Based on Liverpool's underwhelming start to the campaign, perhaps Guardiola was right to hold off, and the City boss kept to the same tactic on Tuesday when asked if Erling Haaland – who has scored 12 goals in eight games in all competitions this season – could be the difference when it comes to the Citizens finally ending their wait for Champions League glory.

"I'm not able to know it," Guardiola said bluntly ahead of City's meeting with Haaland's former club Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. "The team is playing well, so is he. But right now I don't know."

Where his manager had remained on the fence, Ilkay Gundogan – another former Dortmund star – was a little more forthcoming.

"We hope for it," City's captain told reporters when asked the same question. "Obviously having a proper number nine, proper striker, physically strong, determined is going to help us a lot, but we will see.

"Winning the Champions League is something incredible to achieve, a very tough competition; it's never easy and little details can decide the outcome. We'll try as hard as we can to go as far as possible."

Haaland's start to life in the Premier League has been nothing short of outrageous. He has netted 10 goals in six appearances, the joint-fastest player in the history of the competition to reach that tally, alongside Micky Quinn back in 1992. 

The 22-year-old wasted little time in transferring his domestic form to the European stage, too, scoring a double in City's 4-0 victory over Sevilla last week, and it is in the Champions League, not the Premier League, where City really need him to make the difference.

Only 36 players in Champions League history have scored more goals in the competition than Haaland, who has 25 from his 20 appearances in UEFA's flagship club tournament.

He is the first City player to score on both his Premier League and Champions League debuts for the club and the fourth player in the competition's history to score in his first appearance for three different teams (Salzburg, Dortmund and City), after Fernando Morientes, Javier Saviola and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Haaland's tally is the most by any player from their first 20 Champions League games, and should he score against Dortmund, he will be the second player to net in the competition both for and against the Bundesliga giants, after Ciro Immobile.

It was this kind of form that attracted City, who missed out on signing Harry Kane in 2021. 

With Sergio Aguero's availability becoming more limited as his time at City drew to a close, Guardiola enjoyed success without having to rely on a traditional striker. 

Although he enthused about Gabriel Jesus, who has made a blistering start at Arsenal, the Brazil international was often used out wide in the previous two campaigns, with Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling (now at Chelsea) and even Jack Grealish all filling in, at times, as a 'false nine' in Guardiola's fluid attack.

City won the league last season and the one before that. Indeed, four of the last five English titles have gone the way of Guardiola's side, and with or without Haaland, you'd have been brave to bet against them retaining the trophy this season.

Yet they have repeatedly fallen short in Europe. Having lost 1-0 to Chelsea – a team also utilising a false nine system – in the 2020-21 final, City last season had a plethora of chances to put their semi-final tie with Real Madrid to bed, only to lose after a remarkable comeback from Los Blancos in the second leg.

In Haaland, they have a player who should right those wrongs.

With De Bruyne, Silva, Foden and Co. providing the opportunities, Haaland was always bound to score, but his finishing has already exceeded expectations.

His 12 goals have come from shots with a cumulative expected goals (xG) value of 9.4. Essentially, he has scored close to three more goals than he would have been expected to, given the quality of chances he has been presented with.

Not that those opportunities have been particularly difficult ones, of course.

All of Haaland's 12 goals have come from 'big chances' – defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be expected to score. 

No other player in Europe's top five leagues has had as many 'big chances' as Haaland, who has had 20 come his way including the Community Shield match against Liverpool in July. Neymar, who is flying high at Paris Saint-Germain, ranks second with 14. More evidence, perhaps, that he is the final piece of the puzzle in this incredibly creative City side. The player to see them over the line when push comes to shove.

City's top scorer in Europe last season was Gabriel Jesus, with four goals from six appearances. Haaland managed three in three, with injury limiting his minutes. Since he made his Champions League debut, for Salzburg in September 2019, only Robert Lewandowski (33) and Karim Benzema (26) have scored more goals in the competition. Both of those players have won the trophy in that time.

Guardiola might rightly refuse to predict the future, but one thing is for certain – with Haaland, City's chances of finally ending their wait for European glory look better than ever.

That is just what they bought him for.

Pep Guardiola is happy to lean on the knowledge of Manchester City's former Borussia Dortmund players ahead of Wednesday's Champions League meeting with the Bundesliga club.

Dortmund head to Etihad Stadium for their fifth meeting with City in the Champions League.

The clubs previously faced each other in the 2012-13 group stage and the quarter-finals in the 2020-21 campaign. City have won three of those matches, with the other one finishing as a draw.

Ilkay Gundogan, Sergio Gomez, Erling Haaland and Manuel Akanji have all spent chunks of their career at Dortmund, with the latter two having signed for City from the German side earlier this year.

Akanji made his City debut in the 4-0 thrashing of Sevilla last week, a game in which Haaland scored twice, taking his tally for the season to 12 goals from seven appearances in all competitions.

Asked in a press conference if Haaland was excited about facing his former side, Guardiola said: "We spoke in general. Not [a] special [conversation]. Of course, we spoke about some of their players, what he thinks, but in the end it's the quality of the players tomorrow that make the difference."

Guardiola is more than willing to take on board the advice of his four former Dortmund players, however.

"Yes, they are intelligent, players know about football," he said. "Some specific players have doubts... they know them better than me. They were two, three years with them, they know much more than me. I could watch a thousand videos.

"Their systems, formations, are less important than the fact of like how is the manager, how they thought they played against us two years ago – they know it, they know better than me."

It has been a remarkable start to life in England for Haaland, who is the first City player to score on both his Premier League and Champions League debuts for the club.

Haaland has scored 25 goals in 20 Champions League appearances, the most by any player in their first 20 games in the competition. He netted 15 in 13 games with Dortmund and could become just the second player to score a goal in the tournament both for and against the German side, after Ciro Immobile.

Guardiola believes it is too early, however, to judge if the striker can be the difference when it comes to City ending their Champions League duck.

"I'm not able to know it," he said. "The team and he, [so far] are playing well but right now, I don't know."

Asked what Haaland can improve, Guardiola replied: "He's young, he's hungry, he will be a better player, it's going to happen.

"At 22, 23 years old he can be better, for sure. It's a connection with his team-mates, a question of time, he will become a better player."

Ilkay Gundogan does not believe Erling Haaland is nervous about facing former club Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Haaland will line up against the team he left for Manchester City in June when Dortmund visit the Etihad Stadium for the Group G encounter.

The Norway international has scored 25 Champions League goals in 20 appearances, the most by any player in their first 20 games in the competition.

Fifteen of those came in 13 matches in the competition for Dortmund, and Haaland could become just the second player to score a Champions League goal both for and against the German side, after Ciro Immobile.

The smart money is on him doing so, given his remarkable start to life at City.

Haaland has 10 goals in just six Premier League games, that tally comprising two hat-tricks, and netted a brace in City's Champions League win at Sevilla last week.

Gundogan spent five years at Dortmund from 2011 to 2016 before joining City, helping the club win the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double under Jurgen Klopp in 2011-12.

But Gundogan expects the occasion to be more special for Haaland than for himself, though he senses no trepidation in the 22-year-old.

"No, I saw him very happy," Gundogan told a media conference when asked if Haaland was nervous. 

"He was sitting next to me and was very happy, he was asking me [how I felt]. We're both very excited to play our former team.

"For me it's more in the past, but for him it's going to be a lot more special because he'll know 95 per cent of the squad.

"I know a few players and really looking forward to the game here and in Dortmund, it's a special occasion for both of us."

Sergio Gomez and Manuel Akanji also formerly plied their trade at Dortmund, the latter joining in the most recent transfer window, and Gundogan does not believe it is possible for the quartet playing their former club to take the emotion out of the game.

"'I'm sure it’s impossible to take it out because we will have memories attached to Dortmund, I believe all four of us have mainly positive memories, so quite difficult to take emotions out completely," he added. 

"You deal with them in the best possible way, about using them in your favour, not to be over excited, keep calm and cool, which can be the most difficult thing in football."

City lost the Champions League final to Chelsea in 2021 and then fell victim to a comeback from Real Madrid in last year's semi-final.

"The most important thing is the margin of making mistakes, the little details that decide, especially in quarter-finals, semi-finals and final obviously, the margin is so tight that no mistakes are really allowed," Gundogan said of learning from those experiences. 

"The last few years the way we got knocked out was maybe a bit tragic in the way it happened, but I don't think we should regret anything, it's always an experience for us.

"It was incredible to play in the final, even if we lost it, it was an incredible experience. As a competitor you learn from it, try to get there again and do better. The target for the season is the same, reach the maximum and see what can happen."

Asked if Haaland can be the difference in this competition this season, Gundogan replied: "We hope for it. Obviously having a proper number nine, proper striker, physically strong, determined is going to help us a lot, but we will see.

"Winning the Champions League is something incredible to achieve, a very tough competition, it's never easy and little details can decide the outcome. We'll try as hard as we can to go as far as possible."

There was no shortage of thrills and spills on matchday one of the Champions League, and Wednesday's action promises more of the same as one of the world's most in-form strikers faces his former club.

Erling Haaland has made a spectacular start to his Manchester City career, hitting 12 goals in all competitions since his move from Borussia Dortmund, but how will he fare when his old team visit the Etihad Stadium? 

Elsewhere, Graham Potter will hope to have an immediate impact in his first game as Chelsea's head coach as they bid to bounce back from last week's 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are among the favourites to be crowned European champions, and will both be hopeful of making it two wins from two outings.

Ahead of another intriguing set of European ties, Stats Perform trawls through the Opta data to highlight the most noteworthy facts for each game.

Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund

City striker Haaland netted 15 times in 13 Champions League appearances for Dortmund, and few would bet against the Norwegian haunting his former team on Wednesday.

Haaland helped himself to a brace at Sevilla last time out, bringing him to 25 Champions League goals in just 20 appearances – the highest tally managed by any player in their first 20 games in Europe's premier club competition. 

The visit of BVB will represent a landmark outing for City boss Pep Guardiola, taking him to 150 Champions League games. Only five other coaches have reached that tally, while only two have earned more victories than Guardiola's 94 – Alex Ferguson (102) and Carlo Ancelotti (99).

The omens are certainly good for the Premier League champions, who are unbeaten in their last 20 Champions League home games, winning 18 and drawing two. That represents the longest such sequence by an English side since Chelsea's run of 21 without defeat between September 2006 and December 2009.

Dortmund, meanwhile, have not won at an English side in the competition since beating Arsenal 2-1 in October 2013.

Chelsea v Salzburg

Defeat to Dinamo Zagreb spelled the end of Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea reign last week, and Potter is the man entrusted to ensure they avoid back-to-back continental defeats when Salzburg visit.

Chelsea have never previously lost their opening two games of a Champions League campaign, and last lost consecutive games in the competition in 2019-20, when they were beaten by Bayern Munich in both legs of a last-16 tie.

This will be the first meeting between Chelsea and Salzburg, with the Blues only losing one of their previous four European ties against Austrian teams (W1 D2). Salzburg, meanwhile, have never beaten an English side in European competition in six attempts (D1 L5).

But the Blues will have to be wary of Matthias Jaissle's young guns at Stamford Bridge, and may need to keep a particularly close eye on Noah Okafor. 

The 22-year-old has four goals in his last five Champions League outings for Salzburg – only Haaland (eight) has ever scored more for the club in the competition.

Real Madrid v RB Leipzig

Holders Madrid are looking to secure consecutive wins when they host RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu, and are unbeaten in their last 11 Champions League games against German opponents, scoring at least two goals in all of those matches (27 in total).

Leipzig, however, are unbeaten in their three European clashes with Spanish sides (W2 D1) and will be looking for a result comparable to their 2-1 quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid in 2019-20.

Los Blancos possess a remarkable amount of experience at the highest level; should Luka Modric feature, he will become the first 37-year-old outfield player to play a European Cup/Champions League game for Madrid since Ferenc Puskas in November 1965 against Kilmarnock.

Coach Ancelotti, meanwhile, is on the brink of his 100th win in the Champions League, and could become just the second boss to bring up such a century in the competition (after Alex Ferguson with 102).

Maccabi Haifa v Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe scored a terrific brace to get PSG's European campaign off to a flying start against Juventus, and a trip to Maccabi Haifa gives him the opportunity to make club history.

The striker has scored 29 goals in 45 Champions League outings with PSG, scoring against 14 of the 17 opponents he's faced with the French champions. One more goal will see him level Edinson Cavani's record of 30 goals in the competition for the Ligue 1 side.

He could be aided by the in-form Neymar, who has provided eight assists for Mbappe in the Champions League, more than any player has assisted another in the competition since the start of 2017-18.

The final member of their revered forward trio, Lionel Messi, also has his eyes on making history.

Messi has scored against 38 different teams in the Champions League, the same amount as his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, and will be keen to claim the record outright when he faces Maccabi for the first time on Wednesday.

Other fixtures:

Rangers v Napoli

1 – Wednesday's rearranged match will be the first competitive meeting between Rangers and Napoli. The Serie A side have only faced a Scottish team in European competition once before, exiting to Hibernian in the Fairs Cup in November 1967.

3 – Piotr Zielinski was directly involved in three of Napoli's four goals as they thrashed Liverpool last week (two goals, one assist). This is already his best campaign for goal contributions in the competition since joining Napoli.  

Milan vs Dinamo Zagreb

6 - Milan have failed to win any of their last six home games in the Champions League (D3 L3), their longest run without a home victory in the competition.

31.8 – Dinamo Zagreb had just 31.8 per cent possession against Chelsea on matchday one, the lowest of any team who managed to avoid defeat in their opening game.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Celtic

3 – Shakhtar's Mykhailo Mudryk was one of three players to be directly involved in three goals on matchday one (one goal, two assists), along with Robert Lewandowski and Zielinski.

1/13 - Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart has only kept one clean sheet in his last 13 away Champions League games, with his last coming at Roma in December 2014 (for Manchester City).

Copenhagen v Sevilla

8 - Spanish sides are unbeaten in all eight of their Champions League games against Danish clubs (W6 D2) – only against sides from the Czech Republic (13) have Spanish teams appeared more often without defeat.

3/4 - Sevilla have lost three of their last four Champions League group-stage games (W1), as many as they lost in their previous 22 such matches (W10 D9).

Juventus v Benfica

2 - Juventus have lost their last two Champions League games. Only once in the history of the European Cup/Champions League have they lost three in a row, doing so between May 1968 and September 1972.

4 – Benfica's Alejandro Grimaldo has been involved in four goals in his last four Champions League games (one goal, three assists), more than he was in his first 27 games in the competition (two goals, one assist).

Casper Ruud is looking to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Erling Haaland by putting Norway "on the map" ahead of his US Open final appearance.

Ruud is the first Norwegian male player to appear in the championship match at Flushing Meadows, where he will play Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday, with the winner also set to become the new world number one.

Runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open in June, the fifth seed would become only the fourth player from Scandinavia to top the ATP rankings should he prevail at Arthur Ashe Stadium - after Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg.

Ruud is not the only Norwegian sportsman to be enjoying an impressive spell of form. Indeed, compatriot Haaland has made a blistering start to life at Manchester City.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker has already scored 12 goals in his first eight appearances across all competitions - including successive hat-tricks - since swapping Bundesliga for the Premier League.

Ruud hailed Haaland's red-hot streak at City, and said he takes immense pride in representing the Norwegian flag every time he steps out onto the court.


The nine-time ATP title winner said: "Erling Haaland has had an unbelievable season so far. And we all hope he keeps going. It's a joy to watch him score goal after goal.

"So, he's obviously the biggest star we have in Norway at the moment, and he'll probably continue to be so for many more years. 

"I'm just focused on my career and hope I can, of course, win more tournaments in my career.

"Everywhere I go, I represent Norway - whenever I play on the ATP Tour or in a grand slam, because the Norwegian flag is always behind or in front of my name.

"So, I want to represent Norway in a good way, and put Norwegian tennis a little bit more on the map than what it's been in previous years.

"I hope I can represent Norway and the Norwegian people in a good way when I'm travelling around and playing, and hopefully winning more matches."

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter is among five nominees for the Premier League's Manager of the Month award as his move to Chelsea draws closer.

The 47-year-old is widely reported to have agreed terms to take charge at Stamford Bridge following the departure of Thomas Tuchel on Wednesday.

Having been nominated for August's Manager of the Month gong, Potter's arrival at Chelsea could coincide with him being rewarded for a stellar start to the season with Brighton.

The Seagulls won three of their five games in August, drawing with Newcastle United and losing to Fulham, and finished the month in fourth place behind Tottenham, Manchester City and Arsenal.

Those three sides have also seen their leaders nominated, with Mikel Arteta, Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola shortlisted alongside Fulham's Marco Silva.

Arteta led Arsenal to five wins from five matches in August, while Conte and Guardiola did not taste defeat during the month and Silva led Fulham to two wins and two draws.

The nominations for Manager of the Month were released alongside the shortlist for August's Player of the Month, where City's Erling Haaland is the firm favourite to pick up the award after scoring nine goals in five matches.

Arsenal are the only side to have two nominees up for the award, in captain Martin Odegaard and striker Gabriel Jesus, with the eight-man shortlist dominated by players outside of the established 'top six' in the Premier League.

Brighton's Pascal Gross, Fulham's Aleksander Mitrovic, Newcastle United's Nick Pope, Leeds United's Rodrigo and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha are the other nominees.

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