Copenhagen’s Mat Ryan tasked with stopping Haaland in Champions League

Socceroos captain Mat Ryan is bracing himself for the toughest task in football – trying to stop the goalscoring machine that is Erling Haaland.

FC Copenhagen’s Australian goalkeeper, who never found Manchester City the easiest opposition, will have his work cut out in the Danish side’s Champions League tie at the Etihad Stadium against the 22-year-old Norwegian.

Fresh from his latest hat-trick in the weekend’s 6-3 derby defeat of Manchester United, Haaland is expected to be on the pitch against on Thursday morning AEDT as he seeks to add to the 17 goals already scored for City in 11 appearances.

And after his third treble in successive home matches, Ryan will provide the last line of defence for the Danish Superliga champions.

Ryan moved to Denmark this season after a brief spell in Spain but knows all about the perils of facing City, against whom he conceded 21 goals in seven Premier League matches when at Brighton.

The 30-year-old World Cup-bound keeper has settled in well at his new club and enjoyed a clean sheet at the weekend in a win over Aarhus but is now facing a player who City manager Pep Guardiola says “at his age, no one can compete with him.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Guardiola saud. “And inside, in the locker room, and on the pitch, we see things that are not in the stats that make us feel happy to have him here.”

Haaland averages a goal every 54 minutes for City, with 42 shots and three assists, two of which came alongside his hat-trick in Sunday’s derby win.

Against Copenhagen he will seek to add to his 26 Champions League goals from 21 matches.

Haaland is just the start of Jacob Neestrup’s worries after the Copenhagen manager lost his captain Zeca for the season to a serious knee injury.

“Haaland is obviously one of the best strikers in the world at the moment – if not the best – and we will do what we can to limit his possibilities,” said Neestrup.

“But there are also 10 other players we will need to be aware of. People talk about their big names but I am more impressed by them collectively.”