Erling Haaland aware of the weight of Man City's Champions League expectations
Erling Haaland admits the pressure is on as he prepares for Manchester City’s Champions League date with destiny.
The Premier League winners face Inter Milan on Saturday night bidding to claim the European crown for the first time.
Victory would not only end years of frustration and near-misses in pursuit of the continent’s top club prize but complete a glorious treble.
City’s outstanding season, which has also included winning the FA Cup as well as a fifth domestic league title in six years, has been fuelled by the goals of Haaland.
The prolific Norwegian has scored 52 times in an outstanding first season at the Etihad Stadium and is well aware the club hope he proves the final piece in their jigsaw.
“Of course I feel pressure,” the 22-year-old said. “I would lie if I said I didn’t.
“It’s true – they won the Premier League without me, they won every trophy without me. So I’m here to try to do a thing that the club has never done before and I’ll do my best.”
Winning the Champions League is also the chief reason manager Pep Guardiola was brought to the club.
Victory for him would end a 12-year wait to reclaim the trophy since the second of his two triumphs as Barcelona boss.
“It’s absolutely a dream,” said the Catalan. “What has happened in the past is in the past. It’s an incredible competition.
“Inter Milan is bigger than us in terms of history but what’s important is at 10pm Istanbul time we do the best performance possible and that can make the difference.”
Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who left the field injured in City’s final defeat to Chelsea two years ago, admits winning the competition has become an obsession as well as a dream.
“Maybe it’s both,” said the Belgium international. “Every professional player wants to win the Champions League and be on top.
“If you can win the Champions League, you’ve reached one of the biggest things you can.”
City have a fully-fit squad for the clash at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, which was also the venue for Liverpool’s remarkable victory in 2005.
Nerves and tension are likely to increase in the build-up to the match but defender Ruben Dias feels the team are ready to thrive in such circumstances.
“We love the pressure, we love it,” he said. “The pressure will make you run faster, jump higher, be more focused.
“That’s what these kind of games need and we need to embrace it. It’s another time for all of us to step up to the occasion.”