The UEFA Champions League knockout stage is only halfway through the round of 16, but it's already sparked a great debate, one that may be with us for the next decade: Mbappe or Haaland? Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain and Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund were the two brightest stars in the competition as the round of 16 started last month. The world-class strikers -- who are a combined 42 years old -- combined for five goals in their teams' first-leg wins. Mbappe had a hat trick against Barcelona, while Haaland scored twice to give his side an edge against Sevilla.
The pair is back on the pitch this week, with both players trying to advance to the quarterfinals. Haaland led Dortmund past Sevilla on Tuesday while PSG square off with Barca on Wednesday, and all Champions League matches are streaming on Paramount+.
While it's up to PSG, Dortmund, the UEFA draw and Soccer Gods to decide if we get an eventual Mbappe vs. Haaland matchup on the pitch this year, it won't stop us from hashing out one of the best debates in the game right now: Would you rather have Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland?
We asked our panel of soccer experts. Here's what they said.
UCL roundtable: Mbappe or Haaland?
James Benge: If I'm one of the few hyperclubs for whom this option is available I'm taking Mbappe for two reasons. First of all in footballing terms the Frenchman offers that scintilla more versatility in terms of constructing a frontline, he can play wide as well as through the middle whilst going on track records I get an assist from Mbappe every three games as opposed to every five from Haaland. Then there's the other crucial factor: star power. Haaland is brilliant but does he have the same magnetic energy on and off the pitch as Mbappe, a player who has the showmanship to transcend his sport and garner that crucial name recognition across the globe? Just look at the way that Mbappe scored at the Camp Nou and held his celebration for a moment just to find the right camera to pose in front of. I hate to say it but if I'm splitting hairs between these two stars of the next generation then star quality is something I'm going to have to consider. After all something has to fund the massive transfer fee I'd be paying for either of these two.
Roger Gonzalez: I am taking Haaland all day. Look, Mbappe is absolutely incredible, has already won a World Cup and produces moments of magic that have made him the face of PSG over Neymar. He is also potentially the world's next-best player. But Haaland has the speed, he has the finishing ability and he has the instinct, but he also has the size. The 6-foot-4 Haaland is absolutely incredible in the air and can offer more chances to score than Mbappe. That ability, I think, will also hold up in more physical leagues, especially if his future ends up in England. Choosing between the two is like asking if you want to take a vacation to London or Rome. You simply can't go wrong with either, but because of his physical traits, his prolific scoring in front of goal, his instinct, and the fact that he is two years younger, I'm taking the nasty Norwegian.
Mike Goodman: I think the answer is clearly Mbappe. Haaland is an unbelievable goal scorer for any age, let alone for a player who's only 20, but so is Mbappe. Compare their stats and you see Haaland is slightly ahead scoring 1.07 goals per 90 minutes to Mbappe's 0.95. But look at expected goal totals and they're virtually indistinguishable at 0.83 and 0.85, respectively. What Mbappe brings to the table is much more non-scoring impact. He plays 36 passes per 90, Haaland plays 16. He also plays 2.7 passes into the attacking third, Haaland plays 1.3. And, with the ball at their feet, Mbappe is taking on almost eight players per match and Haaland less than two. Now, when you score as much as Haaland does you don't need to do all the other stuff to be one of the best players in the world, but when Mbappe is doing that goal scoring and doing all that other stuff, the choice is clear.
Sandra Herrera: Mbappe. Both players are having impressive stretches right now. In the three domestic fixtures leading up to their respective UCL round of 16 second legs, Mbappe has scored four goals, while Haaland has scored twice. Haaland has had the more impressive and more consistent run of matches during UCL as the fastest player to 18 goals in UCL history in 13 games. Even so, Mbappe's PSG routed Barcelona behind a hat trick from the French international and he is in position to have another big game.
Jonathan Johnson: I am going Mbappe. Haaland is a world-class talent in his own right and any team would be lucky to have him, but Mbappe is still the top young talent in the game in my eyes. The Norwegian's rise has been meteoric, but the Frenchman's has too and he has won a World Cup with France, Ligue 1 four times with PSG and Monaco, both domestic cups twice each and also reached a Champions League final. All of that before the age of 23. Haaland could still equal some of that, but there is no doubt for me who is still setting the pace here -- Mbappe.
So who should you back in the UEFA Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla? And where does all the betting value lie? Visit SportsLine now to see this week's best bets for the UEFA Champions League, all from the European soccer insider who's generated over $17,600 for $100 bettors since the 2017-18 season!