Kane v Bellingham: England duo target Champions League glory as Bayern face Real

International teammates go head-to-head for place in final having enjoyed spectacular debut seasons with their respective clubs

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When England line up for their opening match of Euro 2024 against Serbia on June 16, there are two names that Gareth Southgate will be desperate to have fully fit and on the pitch in Gelsenkirchen.

If all goes well, the England manager should be able to call on two of European football's standout performers this season as the Three Lions look to end a wait of 58 years since winning their only major honour – the 1966 World Cup.

But before spearheading England's campaign shoulder-to-shoulder in Germany, Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham must go head-to-head for their respective clubs as European giants Bayern Munich and Real Madrid do battle in the Champions League semi-finals.

After making big-money moves last summer, both players hit the ground running in Germany and Spain – and have barely slowed down since.

After spending his entire career at Tottenham Hotspur, where he became the club's all-time record scorer with 280 goals, Kane moved to Bayern in a deal worth around €100 million as he looked to secure the first silverware of his career.

Bayern Munich appeared to be a safe bet: the six-time champions of Europe who were looking to win the Bundesliga title for a 12th successive season and had not finished a season trophyless since 2012.

Like his time at Spurs, the goals have been free-flowing, with Kane's double in Bayern's win over Eintracht Frankfurt taking his tally for the season across competitions to 42 – a new personal best for the 30-year-old.

In the Bundesliga, he is six short of Robert Lewandowski's record of 41 goals with three games left to play. “It's possible, but obviously I have to get a move on,” Kane conceded at the weekend. “I've got to maybe score a few goals next week. It's there, it's in touching distance.”

But the team silverware has not materialised for Kane. In his first appearance for the club, Bayern were beaten 3-0 by RB Leipzig in the German Super Cup, their hopes of winning a 21st German Cup were ended by third division Saarbrucken and, earlier this month, Xabi Alonso's unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen side secured their first Bundesliga title.

Off the pitch, relations between coach Thomas Tuchel and the Bayern management have just hit a new low after honorary president Uli Hoeness decided the time was right to launch a broadside at Tuchel, suggesting the former Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea manager would rather just “buy someone else” than try to improve players already at his disposal.

“It offends me deeply as a coach,' said an incensed Tuchel, who will be leaving Bayern at the end of the campaign. “If we have proven something in the coaching team over the last 15 years, it is that young players … always have a place with us. I find it absolutely baseless."

All in all, hardly the best preparation ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg at the Allianz Arena, although Kane remains upbeat.

“I'm confident I'm in a good moment and I can put some away,” said England's all-time top scorer, with 62 goals for his country.

“I'm looking forward to the atmosphere – the atmosphere against Arsenal [in the quarter-final] was incredible. I'm expecting it'll go another level up and I'm quite excited.”

Over in Madrid, life is far more harmonious in the camp of England's other shining light. Bellingham moved to Spain from Dortmund for a fee in excess of €100 million and has been a revelation for the 14-time European Cup winners.

Aged just 19 and wearing the historic No 5 shirt adorned by club great Zinedine Zidane, Bellingham has been the heartbeat of Real's march to a 35th La Liga crown.

Friday's 1-0 win at Real Sociedad – when Bellingham was only on the bench as he recovered from illness – leaves the club needing just four points from the final five games to reclaim the title from rivals Barcelona.

Bellingham has notched 17 goals in La Liga, two behind Girona's top-scorer Artem Dovbyk, and 21 across competitions; a remarkable achievement for someone who was playing second-tier football in England with Birmingham City four years ago.

"Jude is extraordinary," said Tuchel on Monday. "He was fantastic here in the Bundesliga, how he progressed shows the level of personality he has.

"Everyone who plays for Madrid plays with the pressure of the shirt. He handles it like he's never done anything else."

He has also proven himself someone who thrives on the big stage, twice scoring the winning goal as Real completed a clasico double over Barca, finding the back of the net four times in eight Champions League games while also slotting home coolly during the semi-final penalty shoot-out victory over Manchester City.

And Bellingham has made clear that manager Carlo Ancelotti has been key to his rapid rise this season. “The sign of a good manager is when he makes you believe you are a bit better, gives me the freedom to roam,” Bellingham said. “He’s a top person, makes me feel comfortable.

“He’s been amazing in helping me adapt, understand my potential. I’ve played more of a 10. [At] Dortmund I was deeper and Birmingham all over the place, it’s definitely down to him.”

Next up will be Bellingham's first game up against his national team captain Kane, someone he has played alongside 22 times.

“He's a great player, as I've said before,” Bayern striker Kane said of his England teammate. “Of course, he's had an amazing season himself. But from my point of view, I hope he's quiet in the next two games.”

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Updated: April 30, 2024, 2:43 AM