Today’s Manchester derby will not be the first time United’s Lisandro Martinez has gone up against City’s Erling Haaland.
The pair met on October 19th 2021 as Ajax played Borussia Dortmund in Amsterdam in the Champions League.
Haaland came into the game on a roll, having scored 13 goals across eight successive games, but Ajax won the encounter 4-0.
Much of the credit for keeping the Norwegian at bay was given to the Argentinian, who received a celebratory hug from manager Erik ten Hag after the game.
At the pre-match press conference ahead of today’s game, Ten Hag admitted that the pair’s previous encounter was useful preparation for Martinez but warned that “It’s totally different situations. Two different teams, different approaches. You cannot compare it.”
The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell points out that one of the differences between the two matches will be the type of ball played to Haaland.
“Dortmund frequently played long balls up to Haaland, which did result in one big chance for him that required a stunning save by Remko Pasveer, but more often saw Martinez combine with Jurrien Timber to snuff out any danger,” Whitwell notes.
“City are not opposed to the occasional direct pass from deep, particularly when the ball is at goalkeeper Ederson’s feet, but they prefer to build their way patiently up the pitch and suffocate opponents with possession.”
It is probably fair to say that Lisandro had Haaland “in his pocket” for most of the game, but as Whitwell points out, the Argentinian’s performance was “not flawless”.
“Martinez’s first touch, after 36 seconds, was a skied clearance under pressure from Haaland, but he responded a minute later with a scissor tackle to stop an attack,” he said.
“Coming back from a misstep and bludgeoning his imprint on a game are a couple of the characteristics that have made him popular at United.”
United will be hoping to cut off the supply chain to the Norwegian today to give Martinez less work to do, but there should at least be confidence that the striker can be stopped and has been stopped by United’s number 6.
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