Six Champions League quarterfinalists down. Two to go. Tuesday saw Erling Haaland tie a UCL record for most goals in a game (five) with an insanely efficient performance as Manchester City blew the doors off of RB Leipzig. We'll take a look at exactly what makes Haaland so scary. And then it's onto Wednesday's action as Liverpool look for a miracle in Madrid.
I'm Mike Goodman, and this is the Golazo Starting XI newsletter. Let's get set for more European soccer.
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📺 Champions League: Top picks
Coverage starts each day at 3 pm. ET with Champions League Today on Paramount+. Paramount+ will offer a multicast feature allowing subscribers to watch two matches simultaneously in a split-screen view. You can try one month free by using the code: ADVANCE.
All times U.S./Eastern.
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool, 4 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
Napoli vs. Frankfurt, 4 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
📺 Europa League: Top picks
All times U.S./Eastern.
The Golazo Show, 1 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
Real Betis vs. Man United, 1:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
Freiburg vs. Juventus, 1:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
Arsenal vs. Sporting, 4 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
Real Sociedad vs. Roma, 4 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ The Forward Line
🧘🏼♂️ Hungry, hungry Haaland
It isn't just the record-tying five goals he scored on Tuesday in only 63 minutes that makes Haaland scary -- it's incredible that he's only the second player (joining Lionel Messi) to score five in the knockout rounds. But when you listen to Haaland talk to our Champions League Today crew after the match, he suggests he could have scored more. What's staggering is that when he says more, he's not referring to the 27 minutes he sat on the bench as a spectator after he was pulled by Pep Guardiola.
🗣 "I think you’re the only one that knows how to score a lot of goals..."— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 14, 2023
Five-goal scorer @ErlingHaaland is full of praise for Thierry and tells @MicahRichards and @Carra23 the areas where he can still improve. 👀 pic.twitter.com/nRfA0H8r3n
- Haaland: "I could have had two more goals in the first half. And there were also crosses from Kevin [De Bruyne] I could have been at. There was possibilities, but if I stayed on the pitch [longer], no one knows what would have happened. In my mind, I think I always have to look for the next [opportunity] and to try to reach more and stay hungry. Because maybe someone if they score five goals would be happy. You have to be happy, but you have to want more of course."
Scoring five goals is just the beginning, apparently. Haaland is breaking all kinds of records as he rockets along the path to superstardom. It can be easy to forget that he is about to turn 23 this summer with prime seasons ahead of him. Tuesday made him the youngest to reach 30 goals in the Champions League. In the Premier League, he's sitting on 28 goals after 27 matches. City have 11 matches left to play. Haaland is averaging over a goal a match. The Premier League record is 34 goals, held by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole and set during a time when the season lasted 42 games instead of 38. You do the math.
Some records are probably safe from Haaland. Dixie Dean's 60 goals in England's top flight during the 1927-28 season is probably safe -- and I'm using "probably" out of an abundance of caution. But some back-of-the-envelope math suggests that if Haaland stays healthy, he's coming for pretty much every scoring mark imaginable. Give him 11 more goals this season and he'd have a record breaking 39. If he keeps this pace, it would take a little over five seasons from now before he breaks the Premier League record of 260 held by Shearer. And that would be well before he turns 30.
If you're skeptical that he's going to remain at this pace going forward, well, so is he. But that's because he thinks he can get even better. When Thierry Henry asked him where he could improve, this is what he said:
- Haaland: "I think I can get better in everything. I've been missing a lot of chances with my left foot. Left foot, right foot I have to be much better. Heading, combining, everything. But if I have to take one, maybe to help the other players get better, because this is something I would love. To put people in better positions attacking fielders, dropping down, putting them in better positions so they come in their favorite positions they want to be in."
Maybe Dixie Dean should be worried after all. Make sure you watch the full postgame interview.
Craving more soccer coverage? Listen below and follow House of Champions, a CBS Sports soccer podcast, bringing you top-notch analysis, commentary, picks and more.
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🔗 Midfield Link Play
🙏 Liverpool need a miracle
According to Caesars Sportsbook odds, Jurgen Klopp's side is +2000 to advance to the last eight after losing the first leg at home to Real Madrid 5-2. That means they have implied odds of a little under 5% to pull off a miracle in Madrid. Ironically, the market likes Liverpool's chances more than Klopp does. Here's how he rated his chances ahead of the match.
- Klopp: "What I said after the game three weeks ago was that Madrid are through to the next round. But three weeks later, we know there is a game to play and if it is only a 1% chance, I would like to give it a try."
Whether the odds are 5% or 1%, they're still really long for a side that blew an early 2-0 lead at home and watched five unanswered goals from the reigning La Liga champs. But if there's any hope, it's that these two teams are undeniably weird. It's an odd thing to say, but in the first leg Liverpool actually did as decent a job as a team can do defensively while conceding five goals. Somehow they managed that trick while only conceding nine total shots. Since that match, they haven't allowed more than a single expected goal (xG).
- Feb. 25, at Crystal Palace: 0.7 xG allowed
- March 1, vs. Wolves: 0.8 xG allowed
- March 5, vs. Man United: 0.8 xG allowed
- March 11, at Bournemouth: 0.9 xG allowed
It's not enough to make them favorites, or anything close to it. But if you're looking for reasons why a 1% chance might hit, you could do worse.
And now let's get to some links:
🔗 Check out our staff picks for Wednesday's Champions League action.
🔗 More on Erling Haaland's masterpiece; Roger Gonzalez says he's the man to take City to the UCL summit.
🔗 Chuck Booth has all your takeaways from Tuesday's Champions League action.
🔗 Inter might be through to the quarterfinals, but Francesco Porzio suggests Simone Inzaghi's job isn't safe.
🔗 FIFA released its planned structure for 2026's 48-team World Cup.
🔗 Alejandro Zendejas officially picks representing the U.S. over Mexico.
🔗 Check out our projected lineups for today's major UCL matchup between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
🔗 The Serie A crew sat down with Atalanta and Boston Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca to talk all things calcio.
🔗 We've got your weekly Here We Go notes from Fabrizio Romano on all the latest signings and rumors.
🔗 Attacking Third: OL Reign are next up on the NWSL season preview list as opening day draws ever closer.
🔗 House of Champions: Morning Footy co-host Alexis Guerreros joins the crew to talk all things UCL and more.
🔗 In Soccer We Trust: Emergency pod! Gregg Berhalter was cleared and Claudio Reyna comes off looking terrible in the latest chapter in the long running Gio Reyna USMNT saga.
🔗 Don't forget. CBS Sports Golazo Network is coming your way, debuting on April 11!
🔗 And remember, all of your soccer needs -- from Champions League to Serie A to NWSL and so much more -- are available on Paramount+. You can try one month free by using the code: ADVANCE.
💰 The Back Line
💵 Best bets
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern. SportsLine has you covered with this week's best bets.
- UCL: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool, Wednesday, 4 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Over 3.5 goals (+130) -- It's a long shot, but Liverpool will give this one a try. Expect them to pour forward early to try and make up a three-goal deficit. It might not work because Real Madrid will try to break their spirit by scoring one going the other direction. Either way, expect the goals to fly.
- UCL: Napoli vs. Frankfurt, Wednesday, 4 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Napoli (-245) -- When in doubt, bet on Napoli. It's one of the most reliable bets around this season. They don't get long odds, but they consistently get odds that aren't as long as they should be. Markets keep seeing a good team while their numbers and results keep painting them as a great one. Eintracht Frankfurt, meanwhile, are without their star attacker Randal Kolo Muani. It could be a long day for them.