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European Leagues

Bayern hail Kane after prolific start: ‘He can do anything’



Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane arrived in Germany on a record-breaking transfer and his sensational goal-scoring run this season has already exceeded expectations and turned him into an instant fan favourite.

Kane joined Bayern from Tottenham in August for a Bundesliga-record €100 million ($106m) fee, with the German champions desperate to bring in a tested scorer to fill the goal-scoring gap created by last year’s departure of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona.

Kane, the England men’s all-time top scorer and the Premier League’s second all-time scorer, hit the ground running and has already bagged 21 goals in 15 matches in the Bundesliga and Champions League for Bayern.

“It is impressive,” beamed Bayern sports director Christoph Freund after Saturday’s double in their 4-2 victory over Heidenheim.

“He is playing away from the U.K. for the first time and then he scores like that. The team also plays him into position. He is a phenomenon.”

Kane’s two goals on Saturday took his league tally to 17 from 11 games, setting a league record for most goals at this stage, beating Lewandowski’s previous mark of 16.

Kane already has more goals after 11 Bundesliga matches than last season’s top scorers had in the entire campaign.

“I cannot tell you anything different,” Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said of Kane’s scoring run on Saturday. “The performances are telling a story. There is no need for any words.”

Kane has also scored four times in four Champions League group matches, with Bayern having already secured a spot in the knockout stage with two games to spare.

Among the highlights this season is his 60-metre looping shot from Bayern’s own half in their 8-0 demolition of Darmstadt 98, undoubtedly a candidate for goal of the season.

He also scored a hat trick in last week’s 4-0 victory at title rivals Borussia Dortmund, the first player to do so in their Klassiker debut.

“I believe he can do anything,” said Bayern teammate Thomas Müller. “We only need to bring him into position. If he gets to shoot anywhere near or inside the box then chances are the ball will go in.”

Club bosses are equally delighted with Kane’s goal bonanza, saying the move was the right one for both Bayern and the title-starved Kane.

“Absolutely fantastic,” Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said. “Obviously one is happy when things are working so well, having also been partly responsible for this transfer. I hope it continues like that.”

Kane’s scoring exploits have also forced some critics of the transfer to make a sharp U-turn. Among them is former Germany international Didi Hamann who had initially expressed doubts about how effective Kane would be in the Bundesliga.

“I never thought that he would score like that,” Hamann told Bild newspaper. “I mean he did not sign for three months but for four years and he gets great balls from team mates.”

“But still it is impressive because he is one of a few strikers who don’t have so much speed. But it shows you how clever he is as a player. Bayern did everything right. He is a phenomenon.”

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European Leagues

Serie A: Inter Milan make title statement after beaten troubled champions Napoli 3-0




Inter Milan sent a warning to the rest of Serie A with Sunday’s convincing 3-0 win at Napoli which re-established their two-point lead at the summit and left the champions’ title defence on its last legs.

Beautifully taken goals from Hakan Calhanoglu, Nicolo Barella and Marcus Thuram pushed Inter back above closest challengers Juventus, who briefly held top spot after beating Monza on Friday.

Sunday’s thumping was a show of force from Inter who illustrated why they are favourites to win a 20th league title, still unbeaten away from home in all competitions after claiming a huge win at a ground where they have a dreadful record.

“It was a show of strength, of team spirit,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi.

“Winning like this in Naples is satisfying, but we’re only 14 games in and there is a very long way to go.”

Napoli are now 11 points off the pace and travel to Juve next weekend in a match which could end any realistic hope of the champions retaining the Scudetto before the calendar year is out.

To add insult to injury Napoli have dropped out of the top four, replaced by Roma who won 2-1 at Sassuolo earlier and sit in the last Champions League spot on goal difference.

Napoli recriminations

Returning Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri refused to speak after the match, sporting director Mauro Meluso expressing anger at referee Davide Massa for not stopping play for a foul before Inter’s opener and not giving a penalty for what he believed was a clear foul on Victor Osimhen while the home side trailed by a single goal.

“I don’t want to create an excuse for our team, who obviously still need to work on a few things, but we didn’t deserve that humiliation today,” said Meluso.

Simone Inzaghi’s side have won 11 of their 14 league matches so far this season and once Hakan Calhanoglu thrashed in the opener on the stroke of half-time they expertly dealt with a hyped-up Napoli.

Hosts Napoli were playing their first home fixture under Mazzarri, whose team are stuck on a paltry seven points from as many matches at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Barella doubled Inter’s lead just after the hour mark with his first goal of the season shortly after Yann Sommer pulled off a brilliant save to deny Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, one of three superb stops from the Swiss.

Italy’s Barella burst unopposed from midfield and after collecting Lautaro Martinez’s low pass skipped past Leo Ostigard and Natan before confidently finishing past Alex Meret.

And with five minutes remaining Thuram — who earlier had a goal ruled out for a microscopic offside — made absolutely sure of the points, tapping home his fifth league goal of a brilliant first season at Inter from substitute Juan Cuadrado’s low cross.

Paulo Dybala’s 76th-minute penalty and a wildly deflected strike from Rasmus Kristensen shortly afterwards earned Roma a win from their scrappy match with 10-man Sassuolo, who opened the scoring through Matheus Henrique.

The win at the Mapei Stadium came as coach Jose Mourinho is reportedly being investigated by the Italian Football Federation for saying that referee Matteo Marcenaro didn’t “have the emotional stability to referee at this level” ahead of the match.

The Portuguese blasted Marcenaro, 31, in a pre-match outburst on Saturday which the country’s refereeing association said “could lead to violence” against officials.

And despite having excellent Italian Mourinho insisted on only speaking in Portuguese in his post-match interview with DAZN.

“I am speaking Portuguese because my Italian is not good enough to explain certain concepts,” claimed Mourinho.

“When I spoke about emotional stability, I was talking about a quality that is necessary in both life and football in order to perform at the highest level.”

Fiorentina are a point behind Roma and Napoli in sixth thanks to a simple 3-0 win over the division’s bottom team Salernitana, while Bologna are a further point and place back following their 1-1 draw at Lecce.

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European Leagues

Big blow for Barcelona as captain set to undergo surgery




Marc-Andre ter Stegen has missed Barcelona’s last three matches against Rayo Vallecano, FC Porto, and Atletico Madrid due to a lower back problem.

The 31-year-old suffered the injury soon after joining the Germany national team camp last month during the international break and returned to the club without playing for them.

Initially, it was believed that the issue was nothing serious and that Ter Stegen would be back rather quickly. But things have not turned out that way, as the German ace’s recovery has been going much slower than expected.

Surgery a possibility
Now, SPORT’s Tomas Andreu is reporting that Ter Stegen could be forced to undergo surgery to fix his back problem.

Despite initially opting for conservative treatment and some optimism that the discomfort would subside, the goalkeeper is still unable to train normally with the rest of the squad and the German goalkeeper has now missed three games for Barça.

Xavi hinted that he will not be in the next game against Girona either, saying: “He has some discomfort and has not been able to train normally.”

That is why this Monday a meeting is scheduled between the coaching staff and the medical department to assess the situation and decide the next step to take.

Among the options being considered is the possibility that Ter Stegen may have to undergo surgery to solve his lumbar problems definitively.

Nothing has been 100% decided yet, but with conservative treatment failing to deliver the expected results, the time has come to consider other options.

Pena proving to be a reliable alternative
While surgery could mean a longer spell on the sidelines for Ter Stegen, Barcelona have found a more-than-reliable alternative in Inaki Pena.

The La Masia graduate has proven himself in the last three games and was one of the stars for the Catalans last night against Atletico Madrid.

So, Barcelona can afford to take their time with Ter Stegen and ensure that his recovery is complete and definitive, surgery or otherwise.

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European Leagues

Pep Guardiola gives honest verdict on Man City struggle




Pep Guardiola made comparisons to his first season in charge of Manchester City after a third winless Premier League game.

This run of draws is the longest City have gone without three points since Guardiola’s first campaign – his only year without a trophy at the Etihad. And while the Blues boss insists his team are playing well, he was forced to admit that after a third game of being pegged back in the league, they are struggling to get the results they need.

City have led against Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham but have conceded eight goals in those three fixtures – as many as they have let in in their other 11 matches combined. That has to be a concern, although Guardiola prefers to judge his side by the minimal chances they are giving the opposition.

“Tottenham are happy for the point, we are a little bit less happy but the performance is similar to what we have done lately. People say we are concerned about the goals we concede but how many chances did we concede? It’s ridiculous,” he said.
“We concede nothing but every time for our mistakes and the quality of the opponents we concede a goal and, after, it is more difficult. Still, there are a lot of games and that is the point.

“We’re in that position where it’s happened lately so let’s challenge that situation. Good teams are not defined by good things and moments, it’s not the first time we have faced this situation where we are playing good but the results don’t come.

“Always we found a solution but lately we are struggling a little bit. I remember the first season when we were playing good but we could not get results.

“The only medicine I got from my time as a player and manager is to insist, insist, insist. And after, see what happens.”

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