The UEFA Champions League is back and has offered up some incredible matchups between European heavyweights right off the bat as English giants Manchester United take on German champions Bayern Munich on gameweek 1 of the elite continental tournament.
Ahead of the opening week of the prestigious European club competition, English manager Ashley Westwood shed some light on the potential of the Bavarian giants, who have added English skipper Harry Kane to their fold, and how Kane’s ability would bolster Bayern’s chances of regaining the coveted piece of silverware.
The striker is seen as the piece of the puzzle the German machine seems to have missed last season, and Kane seems to have fit to the profile like a glove. And if his early showing in a Bayern shirt is anything to go by, the union between the English player and the Bavarian seems to have the potential to satiate the continental ambitions of both the striker and the Bundesliga champions.
“Kane has started very well, some times it takes you a while to settle, but he seems to have settled in straight away. He took things in his stride, scoring goals in his first few games would be magnificent for him,” Westwood started.
“I’ve also been watching things around him on social media with him doing things off the field, mixing with the squad. Going to have a German beer, if you like, going to have a German sausage. He has really embraced the culture and I think that is going to make him even stronger. “
“We all know that he is a formidable striker. He got the goals he did last season with a struggling Tottenham side, and I don’t think many of the players could have done it. He is also fantastic at the link-up play,” the former Punjab FC coach opined.
Kane’s time at Tottenham was given a boost thanks to the near-telepathic understanding he shared with Heung Min-Son, and Westwood feels Kane could possibly conjure up a similar partnership at Bayern with German international Leroy Sane.
“With Sane, he seems to have got the start he did with Son last season, where Kane can drop deep and provide those passes and through balls to use Sane’s pace. It is an exciting combination and I expect him to score many goals,” the 47-year-old said.
“I feel most sides in the UCL will be wary of Bayern Munich because of Kane and the other players they have at their disposal and the fantastic striking power they have. They are going to be a good side, they struggled last year and they will look to make things right. And that Kane has got the preseason under his belt now, we are all aware of his capabilities and all that makes Bayern a strong side,” he added.
Shifting bases to try your hand at different environments is a challenge by itself and Kane truly seems to have taken to the move like a swan to water as demonstrated by his statement performances with the Bavarian side so far.
It has proven particularly interesting that the man who leads the English national side has found a way to enjoy life at the Three Lions’ long-standing rival nation, Germany.
“It is vital to embrace your surroundings and culture, which gets you respect from your teammates. And if you don’t buy into the culture, you can be a little bit of a lone body,”
“But he is happy to mix in and blend with the squad and sometimes that can spill over into a football match.
“It could be that maybe sometimes people don’t pass you the ball at the right time, cause they don’t respect you as much.”
“But, when you have cohesion and team spirit, everything becomes natural. And that comes from getting into the culture.”
“I’m pretty sure he’d be learning the language as well and he’d already been speaking a few German words, which also fellow players respect- people moving in to their country and learning their language also helps as well.”
Cultural immersion and displays of respect off the field herds in a sense of camaraderie on the pitch that can’t be put into statistics, but can be observed by the eye and felt by the senses. And there is no replacement for connection.
“It is definitely a big part of football. I’ve been at a club before where foreigners haven’t quite mixed and kept to themselves, and they don’t really perform to their full capabilities.
“It is very important and like I’ve said Kane is a very intelligent player and a very intelligent person. I’m sure that he’s mixed and he’s got in amongst that squad straight away,” Westwood concluded.
The UEFA Champions League 2023/24 will be live telecast on Sony Sports Ten 1, Sony Sports Ten 2, Sony Sports Ten 5, Sony Sports Ten 1 HD, Sony Sports Ten 2 HD and Sony Sports Ten 5 HD channels from September 19, 2023, 10:15 PM onwards.