This week felt like a changing of the guard, a passing of the torch, the beginning of something new. We witnessed the destruction of Barcelona at the Camp Nou at the hands of Kylian Mbappe and Co. Meanwhile 24 hours later and 900km away in Seville, we witnessed another magical European performance, this time by Erling Haaland as he led his side to a comeback victory against Sevilla. Social media immediately began the comparasions, BT had head to head graphics shown and just like that a new rivalry was born.
The French Prince
- Faustinto Asprilla
- Andrei Shevchenko
- Lionel Messi
- Kylian Mbappe
The above list contains players to have scored a Champions League hat-trick at the Nou Camp, as you can see Mbappe is in ELITE company. This was a performance for the ages, not only did he net 3 but his overall display was something to behold, he played like a mature 27 year at their peak yet he’s still only 22 and improving which is scary when you think about it. With 22 goals & assists in 21 league matches, there’s word that he’s been misfiring this season? Such are the high standards he’s set for himself. Mind you the quality of the french league will always come into question, but there’s simply no denying the greatness we witnessed on Tuesday night against a powerhouse of European football in their own back yard.
These images speak volumes, Mbappe saw his side go 1 down to a ridiculous decision, rather than cower, he took the game by the scruff of the neck and was quite simply unplayable. The final image shows him walking past an almost confused Lionel Messi who watched his once great side demolished by the French prince. At 1-4 down with a trip to Paris to come, Messi and Barcelona should be very scared, because Kylian Mbappe is for real.
The Norwegian Machine
- Cristiano Ronaldo – 58
- Lionel Messi – 34
- Erling Haaland – 13
These are the amount of games it took each to score 18 CL goals…
This guy is just a machine plain and simple, he has a goal every 55 minutes in Europe and is already Dortmund’s 4th highest CL scorer ever. This season so far he’s got 8 in 5 in Europe and 15 in 16 in the league, outrageous goal scoring. What’s also impressive is how his all round game is coming along, he’s a focal point in the classic BVB counter attacks we witness. Everyone I’ve spoke to would do unspeakable things to have this man at their club, the race to sign him is going to be epic.
Similar to Mbappe’s heroics, Haaland put his team into the lead after going behind, when watching him it’s simply a matter of when, and not if he’s gonna score. For me he’s already the best scorer in football right now at the age of just 20. It’s frightening to think how good he’ll be when he gets into his prime, whatever club he does end up at, are gonna be in for some treat!
In his post match press conference Haaland said he took motivation from seeing Mbappe score a hatrick into his game against Sevilla. This is what got my attention, too often, anytime players start to show a bit of personality or confidence they’re labelled arrogant and egotistical (cough cough Ronaldo). It was refreshing to hear this from Haaland and I hope it continues, miss me with that ‘can’t we just enjoy them both’ crap, we can do that in their 30s, for now I want all out war. I want constant comparisons, I wanna see them face to face. For me it makes the sport so much entertaining.
They’ve squared off twice before, having one victory a piece but Mbappe had the last laugh as PSG went through on aggregate, however Haaland found the net twice as opposed to Mbappe who failed to get on the scoresheet. There’s already a back story to this rivalry that was birthed in this tie, a picture of Haaland went around in which he captioned ‘my city not yours’ with a Paris sticker after the game, this picture turned out to be fake but the damage was done, in the return leg PSG retaliated (led by Neymar) and collectively mimicked his celebration in the return leg . Haaland should have been flattered by this, he managed to rattle a billion dollar squad at the age of 19.
Who am I picking?
I’m on the fence for now, as much as I want a war to start, I don’t think it will be as effective while they’re at their current clubs, I hope in the next 18 months both are playing at much bigger sides. The last great rivalry took place in La Liga, I would love for this to happen in the Premier League, once they’ve made their big moves I’ll make my choice but for now I just want the beef to grow. I’m gonna need UEFA to do us all a favour and rig the quarter final draw (providing BVB qualify), I wanna see them clash again, there’s beef there and the quality on show will be incredible, sounds familiar right…..
End of an Era?
The dawning of a new era usually signifies the end of an old one. With Ronaldo leaving for Italy in 2018 it marked the beginning of the end of the greatest sports rivalry I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t think anyone was more hyped than myself when Juve were drawn with Barca this year, but being honest, it fell flat. Ronaldo was out with Covid (sigh) for the first game and the second game, Barca were just really really bad, Ronaldo scored two and once again conquered the Nou Camp, but it just was not the same.
The El Classico wars we witnessed were long gone, instead now the two are in poor sides and are coming to the end of their careers. Do I believe their time is done? Not just yet! Messi at 33 still has time left to make one big move in his career, whether he has the courage for that is another question, meanwhile Ronaldo at 36, as I wipe the tears off my keyboard typing this…the clock is ticking, there is still time but he’s gotta act fast. I think these two juggernauts of football still have more to give and something in me (probably nostalgia bias) is telling me it’s not over just yet!
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned in the next few weeks where I take a deep dive into football’s greatest rivalry, in the meantime vote in our below and check out our latest posts!