Kane faces toughest test of growing reputation

174 views
Juventus' Italian coach Massimiliano Allegri (L) talks with Juventus's President Andrea Agnelli during the Media Day in Vinovo, near Turin, on Monday, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match against Tottenham. — AFP

LONDON — Harry Kane's 32 goals in all competitions for Tottenham Hotspur this season have lifted him to the top of Europe's scoring charts, but his claim to being the most lethal striker on the continent is set to face its sternest test yet on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old England forward is expected to lead the line for his side when they travel to Turin for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against a Juventus team boasting one of the most stubborn defenses of recent years.

The Bianconeri have won six successive Serie A titles and reached the Champions League final in two of the past three seasons.

Although they lost center half Leonardo Bonucci to AC Milan last July, scoring against them is as difficult as ever with one goal conceded in their last 16 matches in all competitions.

Domestically, they have been breached 15 times in 24 Serie A games this season, a record bettered in Europe's top five leagues only by La Liga's Barcelona, with 11, and Atletico Madrid, with nine.

Veteran Italians Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli continue to be stalwarts in Juventus' back line and are complemented by Morocco international Mehdi Benatia, Brazil's Alex Sandro and Switzerland's Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Behind them, Wojciech Szczesny and the evergreen Gianluigi Buffon have been taking it in turns to rack up clean sheets between the goal posts.

However, there are reasons for Kane to be encouraged ahead of Tuesday's tie. Barzagli could miss the match with a calf injury and Juventus will be without Blaise Matuidi, the central midfielder who provides vital cover in front of the defense.

Kane can also look back to a friendly between Tottenham and Juventus at Wembley in August, when he scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

He will no doubt be buoyed by scoring 14 goals in his last 11 games, including a last-gasp equalizer in the 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Feb. 4 and a winner in the 1-0 victory over north London rivals Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Kane is "one of the best in the world" and "scores against everybody" in the wake of his side's defeat. Juventus will attempt to prove him wrong on Tuesday — the latter part at least. — Reuters


174 views