UCL talking points: Do you take Mbappe or Haaland?


From Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland‘s dominant displays to the struggles of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, plus much more, the first legs of the Champions League round of 16 had plenty of things to discuss. We asked Gab Marcotti, Mark Ogden and Graham Hunter for their views on some big questions.

Mbappe or Haaland: Who would you take right now and why?

Marcotti: Mbappe. Obviously it’s close, which is why the question is being asked, but right now I’ll take Mbappe. He’s more experienced, he’s had ups and downs despite being very young (and bounced back) and he’s had better coaching throughout his career, which, I think, makes him more versatile. But there’s not much in it.

Ogden: This is such a tough one to call. Haaland is all pace and power, while Mbappe is even quicker and with greater flair, but they both score goals at a freakishly consistent rate. Haaland arguably shoulders a greater burden to score at Dortmund than Mbappe at PSG. There are elements of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Haaland’s game, while Mbappe glides past opponents like Lionel Messi. But right now, I would take Haaland; I just believe he will score more goals in the years ahead than Mbappe.

When is the Champions League draw?
– Karlsen: Who could Man City sign to replace Aguero?

Hunter: Mbappe all day long. Haaland is patently a phenomenon, who has worked hard on the parts of his game that don’t come naturally, and there will be certain defenders who’ll never sleep until he retires. But Mbappe is, simply, a beautiful footballer. Taste is personal, idiosyncratic, but it is the Frenchman’s grace, acceleration, invention, wit and unpredictability that enchant me. When he’s darting, twisting, shooting, heading, risking, thrilling… I’m in heaven.

Will Messi or Ronaldo win the Champions League again?

Hunter: They might not, but it is a ludicrous idea that either of them cannot win this trophy again. Both are still capable of leaving younger, feted players in their shade; each of them, surrounded by a good team, is capable of producing 10 or 11 special performances across nine months that, in a good, well-coached squad, is what it takes to win the Champions League.

Marcotti: I think it’s possible, though probably not this year. But I imagine they’ve both got another three years, if not more, after this one. And, they’ve both got free agency: Messi this summer, Ronaldo the next. So if this is their absolute priority, they can probably choose the right club and give themselves a good shot.

Ogden: With their current teams, no. Juventus are in decline and, at 36, Ronaldo faces two or three years before they can become genuinely competitive again in the competition. As for Messi, who turns 34 in June, Barcelona are arguably in a bigger hole than Juventus. Paris Saint-Germain have an interest in both players and could offer a shortcut to glory, while Messi also has



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