It’s always fair to wonder what will happen to an already great player if he is put on a team with teammates who are much closer, or even on, his level. We saw it with Erling Haaland last season at Man City. But going in the opposite direction, Harry Kane seems to be answering the question, “What if we give a generational striker much better teammates while also placing him in a worse league?” And the answer is, “All the goals.”
Munich battering Borussia Dortmund in Germany’s biggest rivalry isn’t much news. They do it at least once a season to reassert their authority over the whole league. But they usually do it at home, not in Dortmund, as they did yesterday. 4-0 might not even be the best description of just how much better Munich were, and Kane grabbed three of their goals. His second and third goals were the typical Kane goal:
Somehow Kane always opens the net for himself, sending the keeper off into the parking lot while he hits the opposite corner. His first goal was a true poacher’s goal, the real skill being able to keep himself from doubling over laughing watching Leroy Sané simply scorch Mats Hummels to the point that the Dortmund defender will need the entire country’s supply of aloe.
Munich were already one of Europe’s best teams last season, but were nearly undone in the Bundesliga by the fact that they didn’t have a true #9 striker. Thanks to Dortmund’s calamitous nature on the last day of last season, Munich still collected their 11th straight title With Kane, it certainly appears they’re going to make a march on Europe’s biggest trophy, the Champions League.
The numbers are just stupid. Kane has 15 goals in his first 10 appearances in the Bundesliga, with three hat tricks helping to make up those totals. He’s thrown in five assists as well, just to prove he’s a nice guy.
Digging deeper, Kane obviously loves having more than just one teammate (Heung-min Son) who can operate on his level. Stripping out the penalties he’s scored (three), Kane has nearly double the expected goals per match than he did last season at Spurs, and more than he has ever in his career. He’s averaging more shots on target per match than he has in five years, and more shots overall, and all of them from a shorter average distance than ever. Which helps explain why 63 percent of his shots on target are going in.
A key feature of Kane’s game in the last couple years at Tottenham was how he had to be an entire attack all by himself along with Son. He would drop into midfield, spring someone, and then race up into the box to finish off moves that he started. That’s still part of his game, but with the support of Jamal Musiala, Sane, and Kingsley Coman, it doesn’t have to be nearly as big of a part of it. Kane’s expected assists per game have doubled from last season in the Premier League, which his progressive passes, passes into the area, and key passes per match have all dropped. Which means he doesn’t have to do it as much, but when he does it’s almost always lethal and setting up a prime chance for his teammates. From this heatmap you can see that Kane still moves all over the field, but he gets to where he needs to be every time.
And Munich did all that without the suspended Joshua Kmmich in midfield, who is usually the fulcrum for the entire team.
While Bayer Leverkusen have been really spiky this season (managed by the smartest and handsomest man in the world Xabi Alonso), it’s hard to see them outlasting this Kane-led Munich team. And Kane’s bonkers numbers are nominating Munich as perhaps City’s biggest challengers in the Champions League. Only Juventus have given up less expected goals than Munich across Europe’s top five leagues, and Munich lead Europe’s top five in expected goals for by five (!). Yes, they lord over the Bundesliga in a way no other club in their league does this season, but still.
Perhaps most exciting for England is that barring injury, the national team will be entering next summer’s Euros with the most in-form striker and most in-form midfielder (Jude Bellingham) in the world. Which will make watching how England manage to bork it all up again even more enjoyable for everyone.
Kane certainly moved to a bigger club when going from Spurs to Munich. It’s not his fault that club just happens to reside in a smaller league. He’s getting to play on an eight-foot rim, and clearly enjoying the privilege.
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