sport news MATT BARLOW: Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are the finest double-act in ... trends now

sport news MATT BARLOW: Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are the finest double-act in ... trends now
sport news MATT BARLOW: Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are the finest double-act in ... trends now

sport news MATT BARLOW: Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are the finest double-act in ... trends now

Telepathy was the buzzword as Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne restored Manchester City's network connections and swept the FA Cup holders into the last eight once again.

The finest double-act in English football at present, purring after an enforced separation for all to enjoy with the possible exceptions of Rob Edwards and his Luton Town players, who must face them again in April at the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland and De Bruyne in tandem are a destructive force. Very good when apart but better together as Pep Guardiola knows.

'Kevin needs players like Erling and Erling needs players like Kevin,' said City boss Guardiola. 'Erling needs a guy with the vision, the quality, the generosity. Kevin is the less selfish player in front of goal. Kevin needs the movement from Erling. We know how aggressive they are.'

It is what happens when two of the world's most gifted footballers come together on a wavelength. In this case, in the midst of a quite exceptional team.

Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne showed they are English football's finest double-act after the Man City pair combined to thump Luton

Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne showed they are English football's finest double-act after the Man City pair combined to thump Luton

De Bruyne's vision must be a dream for Haaland, having assisted four of his five goals

De Bruyne's vision must be a dream for Haaland, having assisted four of his five goals 

Haaland, meanwhile, must be a playmaker's dream - reading his passes to perfection to ensure he is in the right place to finish

Haaland, meanwhile, must be a playmaker's dream - reading his passes to perfection to ensure he is in the right place to finish

As a coach, Guardiola is always looking to innovate and push new boundaries but central to his genius is the ability to recognise when the best thing to do is connect wonderful players and let them perform on the platform he created.

De Bruyne for all his natural talent plays with a sweet simplicity. His touch is reliable and his vision unrivalled. He appreciates spaces, angles and velocities.

Then he has the range to produce the pass with either foot. Usually, quickly and without fuss. More often than not, weight judged to perfection. There is no hint of desire to complicate anything with unnecessary flourish.

He must be a centre forward's dream just as Haaland must be the playmaker's dream.

After all, a pass without a finish is just a pass. Do you remember those sublime passes that did not lead to goals? Of course not. Nobody does. The finish transforms a pass into an assist and, even in this age when people like counting passes, they like counting assists more.

The duo's synchronicity is aided by the trust both players have vested in each other

The duo's synchronicity is aided by the trust both players have vested in each other 

Haaland though deals primarily in goals. He is one of the most single-minded strikers we have seen in the Premier League for a long time. He knows where he likes to play. Rarely does he stray beyond the width of the penalty box.

He can pick up the flight of the ball quickly, has an innate determination to get on the end of passes and crosses, the strength to get through crowds and an athleticism to conjure an effort on goal even from the most awkward chance.

Like De Bruyne, he avoids frills. In this, although their skillsets are very distinct they see the game the same way, a view probably enhanced within Guardiola's sphere of influence.

De Bruyne will know where

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