Kane ‘a shadow’ as ‘ugly’ Bayern continue to struggle

14 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

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Harry Kane (left) and Joshua KimmichHarry Kane (left) is Bayern Munich top scorer this season but drew a blank against Lazio

When Harry Kane slashed Thomas Muller’s cutback over the Lazio bar seven minutes into the Champions League last-16 first leg, the Bayern Munich forward would not have expected that would be his best chance all night.

But Kane was left frustrated for the remaining 83 minutes plus added time as Bayern fell to defeat in Rome, a penalty from Ciro Immobile the difference on a night when the German giants – and their star striker – underwhelmed once again.

In a season which started so brightly for Kane, this is becoming a worrying theme and one which is pervading the entire Bayern team. The side who have won the Bundesliga for the past 11 seasons are in danger of ending this campaign without a trophy.

As well as trailing to Lazio going into the second leg in Munich on 5 March, Bayern are also out of the German Cup having been stunned by third division Saarbrucken. Kane already missed out on a trophy in his first game with his new club, when they were hammered 3-0 by RB Leipzig in the German Super Cup.

All this is on top of their perilous position in the Bundesliga title race, after a 3-0 defeat to leaders Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday – a scoreline which actually flattered Bayern – which leaves them five points off the pace.

Kane had one shot in that match, while against Lazio he failed to get an effort on target – as did his team-mates, with Bayern having 17 shots without troubling keeper Ivan Provedel.

It was not supposed to be like this for Kane following his move from Tottenham last summer, nor did it seem like it was going to be in the first half of the campaign.

Kane scored 22 goals in his first 16 matches – but just six in his past 12 games. Hardly a terrible return, but enough of a drop-off to expose the glaring flaws in Bayern.

“He is not having the same sort of impact in the last couple of weeks that he did earlier on in the season,” European football expert Raphael Honegstein told BBC 5 Live. “He looks a shadow of that player now.”

‘Tuchel is under increasing pressure’

Thomas TuchelThomas Tuchel led Bayern to the Bundesliga title in 2022-23 but is under major pressure this campaign

Without Kane firing on double cylinders, Bayern look lost. They have failed to score in two consecutive games in all competitions for the first time since May 2015, when they went three successive matches without a goal under Pep Guardiola.

Defeats to Leverkusen and Lazio in the space of five days also represent Bayern’s first back-to-back losses since December 2019, when Hansi Flick was caretaker manager.

“A really tough week”, Kane told TNT Sports. “In the first half we started well and had clear chances, one for myself. In these games they’re big moments. The second half was disappointing. We came out with less energy and less confidence. We got punished.

“We’re in a difficult spell. We have to fight. We have to turn it round.”

The only man under more pressure in Munich than Kane now is his manager, Thomas Tuchel, for whom ending a Bayern season without a major trophy would surely prove fatal to his job prospects.

The Lazio loss is his 10th in 43 competitive matches as Bayern coach, already as many defeats as his predecessor Julian Nagelsmann suffered in 84 games in charge.

“Thomas Tuchel is a man under increasing pressure now,” Chris Sutton told BBC 5 Live. “His team have got to turn it around in Bavaria in a couple of weeks’ time.

“This tie is well and truly on. I still back Bayern to turn it around but Lazio have given themselves a chance now.”

Sutton may still have confidence in Bayern, but the statistics say otherwise.

Bayern have been eliminated on the past seven occasions they have lost a Champions League first leg, a run going back to 2015.

‘Bayern are playing ugly football’

(l to r) Thomas Muller, Harry Kane and Joshua KimmichBayern are in danger of ending a season without a major trophy for the first time since 2011-12

Tuchel cut an increasingly frustrated figure on the Stadio Olimpico sideline as his uninspired side failed time and again to break through the organised Lazio defence, usually while playing at near walking pace.

Bayern were hobbled by being reduced to 10 men when Dayot Upamecano was sent off for the foul which resulted in Immobile’s winning penalty, but they still looked bereft of ideas beyond pumping balls towards Kane or hoping the England captain could conjure some magic from a set-piece.

“Bayern are playing ugly football,” Rio Ferdinand told TNT Sports.

“I wouldn’t bet against Lazio going there [to Germany] and stifling them again. Bayern have a lack of confidence, they are in a rut and I don’t see how they are going to get out of it before the second leg.

“If they don’t have good results in the league before then I don’t know how they turn it around.”

The only saving grace for Tuchel is an awareness from an experienced side, still featuring many of the names which won Bayern’s last Champions League in 2020, that they must improve and confidence they can do so.

“Optimistic is the wrong word, but I’m confident,” Thomas Muller told DAZN.

“We know we have it in us, even if we didn’t show it tonight. And who’s to say things won’t look a lot different in three weeks’ time.”

Three weeks is a long time in football – plenty for Kane to get back among the goals. But with a tricky league match against RB Leipzig this weekend, things could get even worse.