Sheffield United star’s Man City pledge and Haaland verdict ahead of Wembley semi-final

Blades star Berge set to go head-to-head with Norway teammate and big pal Haaland at Wembley
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Sheffield United star Sander Berge has warned Manchester City that the Blades “will make it a tough game for them” when they travel to Wembley for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final - which will pit him against his good friend, and City goal-machine, Erling Haaland.

United head to the capital on the brink of automatic promotion to the Premier League and full of confidence, after winning six of their last seven games in league and cup. But they will face a formidable City team still gunning for silverware on three fronts and containing a striker in Haaland who has scored 53 times in 46 games this season.

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United, who have scored 77 times in 48 games as a team, know they will have to be at the absolute top of their game, and hope City have an off-day, to stand any chance of making their first FA Cup final since 1936. But they can take real heart from their tussles with the top-flight giants during United’s two-year spell in the Premier League, during which they didn’t lose by more than two goals in four games against Pep Guardiola’s superstars.

Even during United’s relegation season City only prevailed 1-0 on each occasion and Berge, who described a first Wembley appearance as “a dream come true”, said: “Everyone wants to play on that stage. We know they’re probably the best team in the world and we couldn’t ask for a better occasion.

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“Our families and friends will be there and it’s a big opportunity to show what you can do. When you come up against a team like that, it is all about enjoying it and making the most out of the moment.

“We will make it a tough game for them. I remember when we played them in the Prem [in the last season] and we lost by a goal to them every time. We have to show them respect but, at the same time, be ourselves and show them what we can do.”

It goes without saying that United will also have to keep Haaland quiet to stand a chance against City - a task that many of the best in the world have failed in this season. He has 13 goals in his last six games ahead of tonight’s Champions League tie against Bayern Munich, with Berge travelling to Manchester to watch the first leg at the Etihad last week.

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“I speak with him every day,” Berge said of his friendship with Haaland. “He’s a fun guy to catch up with and it is even better to play against him. I have been up against him before, in the Champions League, and it has not gone so well. So I can do him this time.”

On that occasion, Berge’s Genk against Haaland and Co. of Red Bull Salzburg, Haaland scored a hat-trick in a 6-2 win for his side. But the two remain close, Berge staying at Haaland’s apartment after the 3-0 win over Bayern in the first leg last week, and Haaland visiting Berge in the Steel City too. But this weekend personal friendships will be put aside as United look to cause the mother of all upsets, and make history in the process.