Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger managed to achieve the seemingly impossible by keeping Manchester City’s Erling Haaland quiet.
Rudiger appeared to make it his personal mission to stop Haaland, who had scored 51 goals in 46 games before heading to the Bernabeu for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg.
And the German centre-back did just that.
Not only didHaalandfail to add to his remarkable goal tally, but the world-class striker was also limited to just 21 touches over the course of the 90 minutes.
That was fewer touches than both Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (43) and Man City’s Ederson (29).
Erling Haaland had less touches (21) than Ederson (29) against Real Madrid.
What a performance by the Real Madrid backline 😦 pic.twitter.com/P0P7DecDwY
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 9, 2023
Before coming up against Rudiger, Haaland was averaging a Champions League goal every 58 minutes.
But the defender showed exactly why Real Madrid were so keen to sign the Germany international after his contract expired at Chelsea last summer.
Rudiger knew he had to get inside Haaland’s head to give himself a chance of keeping Haaland quiet.
Video: Rudiger’s bizarre defending vs Haaland
And footage recorded from the stands shows the Madrid centre-back’s bizarre off-the-ball defending against his 6ft 4in opponent.
The clip shows Rudiger getting down low, putting his head underneath Haaland’s armpits.
It was almost as if he was willing Haaland to put him into a headlock – perhaps to draw an easy foul from the referee.
The footage has gone viral and you can watch it here:
lmfaoo rudiger pic.twitter.com/ttE5yZvY54
— andres (@MiIitao) May 10, 2023
— Out Of Context Football (@nocontextfooty) May 10, 2023
Will Man City reach the Champinos League final?
There’s no doubt that Haaland will be determined to get the better of Rudiger in next week’s second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
City are aiming to reach only their second ever Champions League final, and Haaland certainly has the potential to help the club become European champions for the very first time.
When and where is the 2023 Champions League final?
If City manage to advance past Madrid, they will face either AC Milan or Inter Milan in the final.
This season’s Champions League final takes place at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on June 10.