Preview: Kane and Bayern head to Lazio needing to bounce back after Leverkusen loss

AP , Wednesday 14 Feb 2024

This was meant to be the year that Harry Kane finally won a trophy. The Champions League might be his best chance now.

Harry Kane
Bayern s Leroy Sane covers his face besides Harry Kane after the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern Munich at the BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. AP

Bayern Munich heads to Lazio in the round of 16 on Wednesday needing to bounce back after a 3-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen left it five points off the Bundesliga lead. Kane is on track to be a member of the first Bayern team since the 2011-12 season not to win the league.

Injuries are weighing Bayern down, coach Thomas Tuchel’s tactics are in question and forward Thomas Müller questioned his teammates’ mentality in the “nightmare” Leverkusen loss.

Kane has 24 Bundesliga goals already but never came close to a 25th on Saturday. He was shut out of the game as Bayern fell further behind the league leader. Bayern’s attack was neutralized by Leverkusen and the entire team had just one shot on goal.

There are 13 games left and much can still happen, but Bayern’s title hopes now rest on Leverkusen slipping up. Not so easy when Leverkusen is unbeaten in 31 games.

That makes Wednesday’s game at Lazio all the more important.

The Italian team, eighth in Serie A, may not be the hardest opponent Bayern could have faced in the round of 16, but the pressure is on the players and coach to improve.

Left back Alphonso Davies, midfielder Konrad Laimer and forwards Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman all remain injured, while goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and right back Noussair Mazraoui were rested Monday before returning to training Tuesday ahead of traveling to Italy.

Tuchel defended his tactics after the decision to switch from a back four to a back three for the first time this season backfired. Leverkusen exploited space on Bayern’s left flank, where Tuchel had deployed Sacha Boey, usually a right back.

Bayern’s transfer strategy is also in question after Josip Stanišić, a Bayern right back on loan at Leverkusen, scored the first goal. The way Leverkusen overwhelmed the central midfield pairing of Aleksandar Pavlovic and Leon Goretzka was a reminder that Bayern’s season might look different had the club’s plans to sign Joao Palhinha from Fulham in September not collapsed at the last minute.

Kane reeled off a list of Bayern’s attacking faults after the Leverkusen loss.

“In the final third we weren’t good in one-on-one battles, we weren’t good in duels. The final delivery wasn’t there today. So a really disappointing day with the ball,” Kane said.

Against Lazio, Kane and his teammates are under pressure to do better.

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