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Arsenal-Bayern: Saliba-Kane, the ambitious Blue facing the great enemy of the Gunners

It's a match within a match, and small stories within the big one.

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Arsenal-Bayern: Saliba-Kane, the ambitious Blue facing the great enemy of the Gunners

It's a match within a match, and small stories within the big one. The Emirates Stadium will experience a first Champions League quarter-final since 2010, an eternity for a club of the caliber of Arsenal, well and truly back in the forefront. Bayern Munich, for their part, hopes to save their season through the C1, and Harry Kane to win a first trophy in his career, at 30 years old. He will have to go through a circle of fire in the person of William Saliba, the new terror of Premier League attackers, and perhaps elsewhere.

“I think he has the potential to become a Virgil van Dijk, a Vincent Kompany or a Rio Ferdinand, that kind of character in central defense,” former Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher said of him in May 2023. Injured, Saliba was sorely missed by the Gunners in the final sprint in the championship. The promise of Nice (2021) and OM (2021-22), where he had a series of loans, was already no longer one. This season, Saliba has confirmed that he is one of the best defenders in the Premier League, and therefore in the world.

Regular, indestructible (3,692 minutes played out of 3,900 possible) and impassable: since August 2022, no Premier League defender has been dribbled less than Saliba (5 times in 58 matches). The 23-year-old Bondy native especially has Erling Haaland on his radar. He dominated in the Gunners' victory in the Community Shield last August (1-1, 5-2 on penalties), in the league on October 8 (1-0) then again at Manchester City on March 31 (0-0), match after which he was elected man of the match.

“We are very lucky to have him,” greeted his teammate and captain Martin Odegaard. Not the same enthusiasm among the coach of the France team, Didier Deschamps. “He is very successful at the club,” he admitted in March. Less with the Blues when he had his chance, which deprived him of a starting place. For the moment. Two months before Euro 2024, Saliba can still score points. Muzzle Harry Kane, also considered one of the best strikers in the world, would be a new achievement.

SEE ALSO – Harry Kane’s double during Bayern-Leipzig on February 24 (2-1)

So far, no one has found the answer to this German-style Kane: 37 matches, 38 goals and 10 assists. “It’s a gift to be his coach,” rejoiced Thomas Tuchel a month ago. Whether he acts as a surface fox or a playmaker, the Englishman is a delight in a moribund Bayern, which had 3 defeats in February and has just conceded two others in the Bundesliga, against Dortmund (0-2 on March 30). ) and at promoted Heidenheim (3-2 on April 6).

To avoid a white season, Bayern, left behind by Leverkusen in the Bundesliga and tied on points with Stuttgart 3rd, is betting everything on the Champions League. In the 8th round against Lazio Rome, he erased his first leg defeat (1-0) with a solid match at home (3-0), crowned by a double from Kane. The striker is overflowing with motivation in C1, firstly because it is, for the moment, his only chance to finally win a trophy. And because the opponent in the quarterfinals is one of his favorite prey.

Kane is, with 14 goals in 19 matches, the top scorer in the “North London derby” between Arsenal and Tottenham. The Gunners are the 3rd favorite victim of his career behind Leicester (20 goals) and Everton (17). Yet he could have been a legend. Because long before joining Spurs in 2004, from which he left as the best in their history (278 goals in 430 matches), he spent a year (2001-02) with the young shoots of Arsenal. He was only 8 years old when the London club chose not to keep him. He “didn’t have what we thought it took to become a professional,” former Arsenal academy boss Roy Massey told talkSPORT last year.

“It might sound ridiculous, but every time I played them afterwards, I was like, 'Okay, let's see who was right or wrong,'” Kane told The Players' Tribune in 2018. Looking back, not having been kept by the Gunners is "the best thing that happened to (him)", because it "gave him a source of motivation that wasn't there before". And which led him to the honorary title of most prolific scorer in the English selection (62 goals in 89 matches). It’s this record-breaking Harry Kane that it will take to shake Saliba. Knowing that the truth of the first round, Tuesday (9 p.m.) in London, will not necessarily be that of the second in Munich.

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