Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland vs Johan Cruyff: Whose goal was better?

Tom Gott
Haaland's strike brought back memories of Cruyff
Haaland's strike brought back memories of Cruyff / Marc Atkins | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

In 1973, three days before Christmas, Johan Cruyff produced El Gol Imposible - the impossible goal.

The Dutchman leapt up at the back post, contorted his body and somehow kung-fu kicked the ball into the back of the Atletico Madrid net to inspire Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid.

Nearly 50 years later, we saw it again.

New Manchester City signing Erling Haaland continued his reign of terror at the Etihad with an eerily similar goal that propelled his team to a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, after which manager Pep Guardiola couldn't help but compare the two strikes.

Can you really blame him?

Now, you can't just compare the two. We need a winner. We need one Gol Imposible to rule all Gols Imposible.

So, whose was best?

The shot

It's tough to separate the two when it comes to the actual shot on goal. Both are acrobatic lunges to fly-kick the ball back into the goal when it looked physically impossible to get there.

There are two ways to look at this. Haaland's could be more impressive because 6'4 people aren't supposed to be agile enough to do that, but he's also blessed with go-go-gadget legs that the smaller Cruyff would have killed for.

We'll give this one to Cruyff. Just.

The assist

There's no debating here. The cross for Cruyff's goal is nice, but Joao Cancelo's ball through for Haaland is absolutely out of this world.

As part of his spiel playing at left-back, the right-footed Cancelo opted for a ridiculous outside-of-the-boot cross that made its way past no fewer than nine Dortmund players en route to the Norwegian's flailing limb.

It's unreal. Had Haaland just headed home, it would be Cancelo who was getting all the praise.

The occasion

When discussing the greatness of any goal, you need to consider the stage upon which it was scored. Firing home from long range in a dead-rubber game never means half as much as doing so in a top-of-the-table affair.

Cruyff's goal opened the scoring in a fierce game against Atletico Madrid which likely played a role in deciding the La Liga title that year. Barcelona would end up finishing ten points clear of second-placed Atleti - in an era in which wins were worth just two points - so although they clearly didn't need this victory, the phycological reward was greater than the prize of two points.

As for Haaland, his strike came in front of Europe in the Champions League, sealing a comeback victory over a spirited Dortmund side - his former employers, no less. The narrative writes itself.

Only time will tell just how impactful Haaland's goal was, so at the minute, this one is probably a tie.


There's not a lot in it, but the only department in which these two goals differ significantly is the assist.

Cancelo's ball for Haaland is just something else. If that was Lionel Messi or Kevin De Bruyne, nobody would even care about the finish, it would all be about the pass. Cancelo has already proven he has this in his locker but doesn't seem to get the credit he deserves.

If we're talking about the goal as the shot itself as an isolated moment, then Cruyff probably takes the chocolates, but it's the build-up that give's Haaland the edge.