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Bayern Munich won the game. In the simplest terms the Bundesliga champions got the job done as they defeated Manchester United in their Champions League opener. They are one step closer to the knockout rounds and to lifting a trophy that has eluded them since 2020.
The reason they are being touted as one of the favourites to win this competition is down to their big money signing: Harry Kane.
Kane was brought in over the summer for £86m to fill the hole left up top by Robert Lewandowski’s move to Barcelona, and he has hit the ground running adding a fifth goal in as many games for the German side during their 4-3 victory.
Yet, it was not his goalscoring ability that Bayern needed on the pitch against United but the tactical nous of a 30-year-old leader who can switch from finisher to creator at will.
Erik ten Hag’s United started the game as the better team. They transitioned quickly, pressed strongly, and moved forward as a unit. Christian Eriksen should have given them the lead only to be denied by the sprawling body of Sven Ulreich cutting off a gap at the near post.
Bayern’s reply was slow and sluggish with the home side unable to counter the intensity of United’s midfield play. Kane’s first touch as the main centre-forward threat only came after quarter of an hour and was outside the box offering no opportunity to score.
Perhaps Kane sensed Bayern’s struggle, perhaps he was given updated instructions from the coaching staff – though doubtful with manager Thomas Tuchel banished to the stands – perhaps he just wanted to feel part of the game. Whatever the reason, Kane dropped deep, as he so often did for Tottenham, and demanded the ball.
It was fortune and a mistake from his former teammate Eriksen that gave it to him. Eriksen failed to control possession in the middle of the pitch and let the ball run through to Kane. Close your eyes and picture Kane in Tottenham whites, he turns, taps it forward and threads a wonderful pass wide of Lisandro Martinez to play a teammate in behind the lines with a sight of goal.
On those previous occasions more often than not it was Son Heung-min on the receiving end, here it was Jamal Musiala. Musiala’s shot was turned wide but the moment released the shackles from Bayern Munich and unlocked the next phase of the match.
Kane slotted home a penalty kick after setting up Bayern’s first goal
Afterwards they increased their tempo and the speed of their passes, runners got in behind and a fluid connection developed between Kane, as the front man, and the lightning quick attackers sat off him.
10 minutes later Bayern were ahead. Kane, leaning heavily on Martinez to keep him at arm’s length, was fed the ball in the box and with one-touch set Leroy Sane into enough space to shoot. He scored, mainly due to Andre Onana’s error, but the chance was created by the England captain on a night when he was often on the fringes of play.
There were quiet periods. Long stretches of time when Kane acted as the dummy runner or wasn’t picked out in the box. It was far from his best performance, but it was classic Kane. Stepping up to take a penalty in the second half he smoked it to the goalkeeper’s right, his favourite side, and found the side-netting. A perfect penalty kick to cap off an imperfect night.
“I don’t do anything different than I’ve done at any other club so far,” Kane said ahead of the match when talking about how he’s settled into life in Germany.
“I like to lead by example when I’m on the training ground or on the pitch. I talk to my teammates, help them and try to see how I can motivate them.”
Based on his performance this evening he’s living up to his word and once he fine tunes those connections with his new teammates Harry Kane may yet lead Bayern Munich to the European title.