Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring | AFP
DUESSELDORF, Germany: Manchester City and Bayern Munich's seasons are each defined by one signing — for better or worse.
As City prepares to finish off Bayern in the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday after beating the German champions 3-0 in the first leg, Erling Haaland has redefined the role of a modern striker.
Haaland has scored 47 goals in 40 games in all competitions, and has a possible 13 more games to play this season. The Norwegian scored against Bayern in the first leg after demolishing another German team, Leipzig, with five goals in the previous round.
Then there’s Sadio Mané. The Senegal forward was supposed to reshape Bayern’s attack into a fluid, flexible threat less reliant on a traditional striker when he joined from Liverpool last year as Robert Lewandowski left.
However, Mané has contributed little on the field in recent months and upset squad stability. He has been a bit-part player ever since a leg injury ruled him out of the World Cup, and was suspended from the squad for Bayern's draw at Hoffenheim on Saturday for what the club called “misconduct” after confronting teammate Leroy Sané in the locker room following the loss to City. German media reported he had struck Sané in the face.
Tuchel has said Mané apologized like a “role model” in a process which had a “cleaning effect” on the squad’s atmosphere, but it’s yet to be followed by any improvement on the field.
Bayern and coach Thomas Tuchel are staking their faint hopes on home advantage and a promise to finally turn their team's form around.
“We all know that we need a completely different performance. We know that we can do it but we have to bring it onto the field,” Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich said after Saturday's draw against Hoffenheim left Tuchel with two wins from five games since he replaced Julian Nagelsmann last month.
Center forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who missed the first leg with a knee injury, is back in training and could play in the second game. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has a broken leg, and scrutiny of replacement Yann Sommer has increased after he missed saves against City and Hoffenheim, while defender Lucas Hernandez is also out long-term.