Kane’s last chance of a trophy this season is in the Champions League

Bayern Munich's Harry Kane, front, during a training session in Munich, Germany, Monday. FC Bayern Munich will face FC Arsenal for a Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match on Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 09 April 2024
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Kane’s last chance of a trophy this season is in the Champions League

  • The Champions League remains Bayern’s last hope of silverware in a difficult season that has seen Germany’s grandest club dominated by Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga
  • The first leg is in London on Tuesday, when Kane will no doubt be the target of jeers from 60,000 Arsenal fans — there’ll be no Bayern supporters inside Emirates Stadium for disciplinary reasons

LONDON: Harry Kane moved to Bayern Munich in the hope — maybe even the expectation — of finally winning a first trophy of his career.

Arsenal, the England captain’s old foe, could ensure that long wait goes on for at least another season.

The Champions League remains Bayern’s last hope of silverware in a difficult season that has seen Germany’s grandest club dominated by Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga and eliminated by third-division Saarbruecken in the second round of the German Cup.

Bayern’s opponent in the Champions League quarterfinals is Arsenal, pitting Kane against a team he considered his fiercest rival during a 19-year stint with Tottenham that came to an end in August.

The first leg is in London on Tuesday, when Kane will no doubt be the target of jeers from 60,000 Arsenal fans — there’ll be no Bayern supporters inside Emirates Stadium for disciplinary reasons — and the biggest threat to Arsenal’s defenders.

“It’ll be very enjoyable for Harry to be here against Arsenal in a Champions League quarterfinal,” Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said on Monday at a news conference at the Emirates. “It will make him very happy to score — I don’t see anything holding him back.

“I feel him very motivated. Harry always helps you to win, in any team — for England, Tottenham and now for us.”

The respect Arsenal has for Kane was abundantly clear.

“For me, personally, he is the best finisher in the world,” Arsenal forward Gabriel Jesus said.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said Kane’s consistency was his greatest strength — and knows all about that. After all, the striker has 14 goals in 17 games against Arsenal in all competitions, making the Gunners one of his favorite opponents.

Among Kane’s numerous individual honors are Golden Boots in the English Premier League as well as the World Cup in 2018. Kane, meanwhile, is the second highest-scoring player in Premier League history with 213 and already has 32 league goals this season for Bayern, which he joined in August in a deal worth more than 100 million euros ($110 million).

“When you look at his numbers over the last 10 years, it is unbelievable what he has done,” Arteta said of Kane. “He can score in many different ways. He has the service and has the players around him, as well.”

In his latter years at Tottenham, Kane — the all-time top scorer for England — mastered the art of dropping deeper and being more involved in the team’s buildup play, too.

“It’s really easy to play with him because he is an intelligent player,” Bayern winger Leroy Sane said. “He knows how his teammates around him play — he is trying to use them for his own game but to help his team, too.”

Arteta was asked if he had spoken to Xabi Alonso, his fellow Spaniard who is in charge of runaway Bundesliga leader Leverkusen, for any tips on how to stop Kane and Bayern.

“Great question!” Arteta said. “I’m not going to answer that.”


Ukraine beat Slovakia 2-1 for a comeback win at Euro 2024

Updated 21 June 2024
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Ukraine beat Slovakia 2-1 for a comeback win at Euro 2024

  • The win got Ukraine back on track after losing 3-0 to Romania in their opening game

DUESSELDORF, Germany: Roman Yaremchuk scored as Ukraine came back from a goal down to beat Slovakia 2-1 on Friday and strengthen their hopes of reaching the Euro 2024 knockout stages.
The win got Ukraine back on track after losing 3-0 to Romania in their opening game.
Slovakia took the lead in the 17th minute with a header from Ivan Schranz, who also scored the only goal in their surprise 1-0 win over Belgium four days earlier.
Oleksandr Zinchenko crossed low for Mykola Shaparenko to score Ukraine’s first goal of the tournament in the 54th.
Shaparenko played his part in the second goal, too, sending a long pass over the top for Yaremchuk, who controlled the ball with his first touch and then prodded it past goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.


Georgia and the Czech Republic desperate to get off the mark in Group F

Updated 21 June 2024
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Georgia and the Czech Republic desperate to get off the mark in Group F

  • Türkiye and Portugal are the other two teams in Group F and play later Saturday
  • Georgians and the Czechs were praised for fighting hard in their opening games

HAMBURG: Georgia and the Czech Republic are desperately seeking a win as they meet in their second game of Euro 2024 in Hamburg.
Kickoff is at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) on Saturday.
Türkiye and Portugal are the other two teams in Group F and play later Saturday.
Georgians and the Czechs were praised for fighting hard in their opening games but didn't get any points as Türkiye beat Georgia 3-1 and Portugal beat the Czechs 2-1 on a stoppage-time goal from Francisco Conceicao.
A win for either team would boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout rounds. The losing team wouldn't be eliminated for sure just yet because of the rule that some third-place teams can qualify.
A draw would leave Georgia needing an upset win over Portugal in their last game, and the Czech team needing the same against Türkiye.
Meanwhile, Georgian fans were involved in a brawl in the stadium ahead of the Türkiye game.
Georgia’s midfielder Otar Kiteishvili has been on an individual training program separate from the rest of the squad and was an unused substitute in the loss to Türkiye.
Moreover, Czech coach Ivan Hasek played down fitness concerns around captain and midfielder Tomas Soucek, saying he has been in full training. “I think everybody will be ready to start tomorrow,” he said.
Striker Patrik Schick, of Czech Republic, is set to play his 40th game for his country and his next goal will be his 20th. Five of his international goals to date came at the last European Championship.
"Getting out of the group should be the goal, but the most important thing now is to put on a good show. We are still in the development phase and this tournament will help us to become even stronger in the future,” said Georgia’s coach Willy Sagnol.
“I’m not nervous because football has given me everything and hard moments are something that I enjoy...Tomorrow is a great opportunity for me,” said Czech midfielder Antonin Barak.


Fulfilling dreams and finding new friends: fans camp out at Euro 2024

Updated 21 June 2024
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Fulfilling dreams and finding new friends: fans camp out at Euro 2024

  • “In 1990 I was with some friends in Italy at the World Cup there and it was so funny and I said at that time, okay, I will do it again,” Harald Goerz, a Germany fan from Aachen told Reuters

STUTTGART: International rivalries have been put to one side in a campsite in Stuttgart as fans from various nations live in motorhomes next to one another and share the common joy of following their team at Euro 2024.
While the action intensifies on the pitch, the fans are making new friends, sharing drinks and creating a festival atmosphere in a unique holiday that could end next week or next month.
“In 1990 I was with some friends in Italy at the World Cup there and it was so funny and I said at that time, okay, I will do it again,” Harald Goerz, a Germany fan from Aachen told Reuters outside his rented motor home.
“In that time I met my wife, we have been married for 32 years. And last year we had the idea to start this traveling with the German team around Germany to all their games.
“That was ever my dream, I said to her if any time a new European Championship or World Cup is in Germany, then we will do that.”
Harald’s wife Martina, sitting beside him in her Germany jersey, said they would make a photo album of their journey across the country that has taken in Munich and Stuttgart so far and then on to Frankfurt next to show their family.
“We want to have a photo album... for our grandchildren to show them: Look. When I tell our daughter about it, she watches it herself, she lives in Cologne, and she will say: ‘That’s amazing, it’s a shame I couldn’t come with you’. She is crazy about football too.”
Germany have two wins from their opening two matches, the second a 2-0 victory over Hungary at the Stuttgart Arena, which is a five minute walk from the campsite.
However, there was no animosity from Hungarian fans also were camping out.
“It’s amazing. That’s the word... after the game we came here and we just sit in the ‘pub’ and drink with the Scottish fans and they are the best,” Hungary fan Tamas Szucs said, camping with his friend Zsolt Kiraly who he met five years ago and now travels with for international matches.
“We had some German fans here, we said to them well done, good job.
“Everyone is friendly,” he added.

’NO SCOTLAND, NO PARTY’
The Scottish fans are proving to be popular at this tournament with thousands having made the journey. At the Stuttgart campsite, groups made their way separately on the long journey from Scotland but are already one big family.
“We left Glasgow 10 days ago and drove 24 hours solid to get here. And the three guys here, they fell right out the bus. They didn’t stop drinking for 24 hours. 80 cans of beer in 24 hours,” Scotland fan John Gilmour said as his fellow fans cheered and raised fresh bottles of beer.
Scotland were part of the last Euros but that one had COVID restrictions, so for some fans it has been their first real chance to see their team at a European Championship since 1996.
“This was my dream,” said Tony, a Scotland fan who lives in Blackpool, England.
“When I was younger I can remember the football but I was too busy with children. So this time was my dream. I wasn’t missing it. And I brought my son. He was born during Euro 96, so I managed to get him here as well.”
There will be more Scottish arrivals in Stuttgart ahead of their crucial Group A match against Hungary on Sunday, with both teams needing a win to be in with a shout of reaching the next stage.
The chant of “No Scotland, no party” will be heard right across the campsite and the city this weekend.


Cristiano Ronaldo back in action as Portugal and Turkiye look for second straight win at Euro 2024

Updated 21 June 2024
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Cristiano Ronaldo back in action as Portugal and Turkiye look for second straight win at Euro 2024

DORTMUND, Germany: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal play Turkiye in their second group game at the European Championship. Both countries opened Group F play with a win, with Portugal beating the Czech Republic 2-1 and Turkiye defeating Georgia 3-1. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. local (1600 GMT) in Dortmund. Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

  • The 39-year-old Ronaldo lost his place in the Portugal team at the World Cup in 2022 but he looks to be as guaranteed a starter as ever under Roberto Martinez, who took over as coach after the tournament in Qatar. Ronaldo is captain and played the full game against the Czechs, though didn’t score.
  • Portugal encountered a Czech Republic team which sat back and defended in numbers in Leipzig. Turkiye is unlikely to do that, given its strength in attack, so expect Ronaldo and company to have more space going forward.
  • Arda Guler is the one to watch for Turkiye. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder from Real Madrid scored one of the goals of the tournament against Georgia — a long-range screamer into the top corner — to take Ronaldo’s record as the youngest debut scorer at a European Championship.
  •  Turkiye is playing a second straight game at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. Its fans turned the stadium into a sea of red against Georgia and look sure to outnumber the Portuguese support on Saturday.
  •  Portugal or Turkiye will guarantee a first-place finish in the group with a win in Dortmund and if Georgia-Czech Republic is a draw in Hamburg earlier Saturday.
(AFP)

Team news

  • Portugal’s entire 26-man squad has been in training so Martinez again has some tough decisions to make, given the strength in depth of the group. Joao Palhinha is pushing for a return as the anchorman in midfield.
  • İrfan Can Kahveci missed the win over Georgia because of injury and has yet to return to full training with Turkiye.

By the numbers

  • Ronaldo will look to add to his record 14 goals in European Championships. That is five more than his nearest rival — Michel Platini, whose nine goals all came in the same tournament (1984). It will also be Ronaldo’s record-extending 27th appearance at the Euros.
  • Portugal won all 10 of its qualifying games for Euro 2024 and then its opening group game. The team has also beaten Turkiye in each of their last six competitive matches, and in all three of their meetings at the Euros.
  • By starting against the Czechs, Portugal defender Pepe became — at 41 years and 113 days — the oldest player to feature in a European Championship.
  • By beating Georgia, Turkiye ended a run of losing its opening match in each of its last five appearances at the Euros.

What they’re saying
“We’re expecting a completely different game. Turkiye have better players (than the Czech Republic) and they will want a different kind of match.” — Portugal forward Diogo Jota.
“Even in bad weather, they were at the stadium for us and were so loud. With them, we feel like we are playing with 12 men.” — Turkiye defender Ferdi Kadıoğlu on his team’s loud and passionate fans.


UEFA says it will improve Frankfurt field after turf cuts up in England-Denmark game at Euro 2024

Updated 21 June 2024
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UEFA says it will improve Frankfurt field after turf cuts up in England-Denmark game at Euro 2024

  • Frankfurt has had steady rainfall this week and the Waldstadion roof was closed for 24 hours before kickoff

FRANKFURT: After an England-Denmark game at the European Championship played on a field that cut up following days of rain, UEFA said Friday it was working on “specific issues” to improve the quality.
Frankfurt has had steady rainfall this week and the Waldstadion roof was closed for 24 hours before kickoff, and during the game Thursday, to protect the field that was used all season by host club Eintracht Frankfurt.
Chunks of turf were kicked up during England’s 1-1 draw with Denmark and several players slipped on the greasy grass in humid conditions on a 23-degree (73 F) day.
“A detailed maintenance plan is in place to address specific issues and further improve quality ahead of the upcoming fixtures at the venue,” UEFA said in a statement.
Germany plays Switzerland in the stadium Sunday in a 9 p.m. local (1900 GMT) kickoff. Frankfurt also hosts Slovakia-Romania on Wednesday and a round of 16 game on July 1 for the Group F winner, that could be Portugal.
UEFA has replacement fields ready to bring in when needed. The playing surface at Switzerland’s training stadium was relaid this week after a formal complaint.
England coach Gareth Southgate said he noticed the Frankfurt field break up when Belgium played there Monday and lost 1-0 to Slovakia.
“I’ve been a defender, when you play on a pitch like that it puts you on edge because you are not sure of your footing,” Southgate said after Thursday’s game.
UEFA said its expert field consultants “have seen the overall pitch rating improve consistently over the course of the previous season.”
Persistent rain in Germany during Euro 2024 has added to issues with fields that were relaid before the competition. In Hamburg, the Poland and Netherlands could not practice on the surface before the opening game at Volksparkstadion on Sunday.
Playing surfaces have been relaid during previous tournaments with turf brought from the Netherlands: During Euro 2016 at Lille, France, and Euro 2008 at Basel, Switzerland.