Harry Kane: Bayern Munich season a failure without Champions League win

By Sports Desk April 16, 2024

Harry Kane admits the season will be a failure if Bayern Munich do not win the Champions League.

Bayern host Arsenal on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final, with the first match last week ending in a 2-2 draw.

Bayer Leverkusen romped to the Bundesliga title at the weekend, ending Bayern’s run of 11 straight league trophies and leaving them with only Europe’s highest honour to play for.

While Kane has excelled individually, his wait to win a team trophy after more than a decade without one at Tottenham could well continue.

The England captain told a press conference: “Of course every player, every club wants to win trophies, that’s the ultimate goal every season, but there’s a process into winning, there’s a process individually and in the team.

“You want to improve as a player every year, you want to show the world your capabilities and you want to push yourself to the very limits and you hope that helps with the team.

“Of course, from the club’s point of view it will be a failed season if we don’t win anything this year because we’re expected to win but all we can do is take that into next year and try and turn that around.

“The main thing for us is we still have an opportunity to turn this season into a great season if we win the Champions League. That motivation is still there and as players you can only hang onto that. If we can do something special tomorrow night then of course that keeps that hope alive.

“It’s a time to raise our game, it’s a time for me and the players who have been in big situations, pressure situations, to step up and be counted. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere. There’s a lot of expectation but I think there’s a good belief among the squad that we can achieve something tomorrow.”

Kane’s history with Spurs adds an extra edge to the occasion, with the striker also having been released by Arsenal as a child.

He played down the significance, saying: “I think it’s something that’s probably built up more from the outside, from the media, from the fans, rather than me myself.

“Of course I had a lot of history with Arsenal playing for Spurs for so many years in that north London derby, obviously it was the biggest game of the season every year probably, but it’s a different chapter, it’s a different moment for me playing for a different team and my focus is trying to beat a really good side.

“Of course I know there’ll be a lot of Spurs fans watching hoping that Bayern Munich go through but I can’t focus on that.

“Maybe it was in the back of my mind, being released from a young age, there was always a point to prove, and I feel like I’m the type of player who throughout my whole career has had points to prove. I don’t think that ever leaves you.

“Now I’m at Bayern Munich and they’re a top team in the Champions League and of course I have history with them but all I can do is try and help Bayern Munich qualify for the semi-finals.”

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    Bayer Leverkusen were "not interested" in maintaining their unbeaten record, according to Granit Xhaka, who acknowledged his frustrations after Wednesday's Europa League final disappointment.

    Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions had not suffered defeat since the final game of last season against Bochum, but succumbed to their next loss in the decisive moment against Atalanta in Dublin.

    Ademola Lookman stole the headlines with a remarkable hat-trick, powering Gian Piero Gasperini's team to their first title in 61 years, when Atalanta won the Coppa Italia.

    A 3-0 defeat ensured Leverkusen will have to settle for, at most, a domestic double as they look to bounce back on Saturday in the DFB-Pokal final.

    Yet Xhaka insisted Alonso's side never had the undefeated streak in their minds as soon as kick-off arrived at the Aviva Stadium.

    "Honestly, we're not interested in the unbeaten record," the former Arsenal midfielder said to RTL. "We didn't care about that from the start.

    "It's about the game and unfortunately we lost a final today. That's football.

    "We said yesterday that it would be a difficult game. Compliments to Atalanta."

    Leverkusen's unbeaten streak spanned nine months and 51 games this season, starting their 2023-24 campaign with a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of lowly Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August.

    Alonso's impressive men triumphed in 42 of those matches during their historic unbeaten run across all competitions, drawing the other nine as Leverkusen coasted to their first Bundesliga title in history.

    Scoring 143 goals and conceding just 39 across that dominant period, not many would have expected Gasperini's side to shutout Leverkusen and beat goalkeeper Matej Kovar three times in the process.

    Leverkusen are the first league-title winners to lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    In single-game only finals, this was also the biggest margin of defeat for a German team since Eintracht Frankfurt lost 7-3 to Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup, perhaps explaining Xhaka's annoyance.

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    The Bundesliga champions were eyeing an unlikely treble, with the DFB-Pokal final to come this weekend, but those plans came crashing down in a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

    Ademola Lookman single-handedly powered Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first title in 61 years, producing an individual performance for the ages with a decisive hat-trick.

    European heartbreak marked Leverkusen's first loss this season, with their last defeat coming to Bochum on the last day of the 2022-23 Bundesliga campaign, as Alonso's side were finally stopped.

    Yet the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder says nothing can take away from Leverkusen's memorable campaign.

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    "It hurts because we wanted to lift the trophy but you can't have everything. We lifted the Bundesliga and we have the chance to lift the DFB-Pokal on Saturday."

    Leverkusen are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same term since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

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    Alonso was unsurprised by the excellence of Gasperini and his Atalanta side, however.

    "It is not something they have just done this year, they have been doing it for many years," the Spaniard said, acknowledging the work of 66-year-old Gasperini.

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    Lookman produced a performance worthy of the most important European moment in Atalanta's history, securing the club's first-ever major trophy on the continent after his dazzling hat-trick.

    The Nigeria winger is just the sixth player to manage a treble in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

    Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo when Gasperini's side head home, boasting their first trophy in 61 years – after the Coppa Italia – following a 3-0 triumph to end Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run.

    "One of the best nights of my life," the hat-trick hero told TNT Sports in Dublin.

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    Preparing to leave the Aviva Stadium with the Europa League trophy in hand, Lookman could not wait to celebrate a seismic moment in the club's history.

    "We've got to celebrate, we made history tonight," he added.

    Gasperini, aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday, is the oldest coach to win his debut major European final, and the second Italian coach to win the Europa League after Maurizio Sarri in 2019.

    The veteran Atalanta mastermind echoed Lookman's sentiment, after securing just a second trophy in the Italian club's history.

    "I think we wrote history, also for the way we won it," said Gasperini, speaking to UEFA's official media channels.

    "It was just extraordinary, we defeated Liverpool, Sporting who won the championship. When we faced Liverpool they were first in the Premier League... And now the German champions.

    "Incredible. The boys were extraordinary, a memorable performance."

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