Harry Kane ready to get even with Giorgio Chiellini

Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2018 by Express.co.uk

Harry Kane ready to get even with Giorgio Chiellini
Tottenham star Harry Kane is ready for a huge battle

HARRY KANE comes face to face once again with the defender he describes as his fiercest nemesis. Only this time, he is ready for him.

The battle between Kane and Italian stalwart Giorgio Chiellini is a vignette of this Champions League clash as a whole; Mauricio Pochettino's 'do or die' wannabes against the cynical, hard-to-break Juventus who have reached two of the past three finals.

If the England and Spurs talisman seems like an almost unstoppable force, try considering this for a moment. Juventus have conceded just once in their last 16 games in all competitions – 14 wins and two goalless draws against Inter Milan and Barcelona. Very much the near-immovable object.

Incredibly, it is still less than three years since Kane made his first start in a full England international at the Juventus Stadium against Italy in a 1-1 draw.

It was there that he was given an introduction by Chiellini into what it is like to be a marked man – within a minute of kick-off.

"Yeah, I do remember it!" Kane recalls. "I was a young player coming through, doing really well. He was a great defender, very experienced.

"It was my first touch. He wiped me out, gave me a dead leg for about five minutes. It was kind of a welcome to international football.

"It was amazing. I remember it well. It actually doesn't seem that long ago. It was a very proud night for me and the family, my first start for England. It was a tough game, a good learning experience for me. I'm looking forward to going up against him again."

The impression clearly took longer to fade than the bruises as in subsequent interviews, Kane has always named the 33-year-old as his toughest opponent.

"I've been asked the question a few times and I've said Chiellini," Kane said. "I've faced him a couple of times. Also, John Terry was one of the best when he was in the Premier League. There's a few.

"Chiellini's very experienced. He uses his body well and his positioning well. When you try to make runs, he knows when to step across you. He knows when to give you a little nudge to put you off balance. He knows when to come tight and get up your backside and also when to drop off as well.

"It's the experienced defenders that are the most difficult because they know where to be at the right times and you've got to find a way to get around that.

"There are lots of different types of defenders. Italians are well known for being heart-on-the-sleeve, putting their bodies on the line. There are a lot of great defenders around the world and the Italians have that reputation for being some of the best so we know it's going to be a tough game.

"I know personally it's going to be a tough game, a physical game. But it's one I'm looking forward to."

Kane, who had scored as a substitute four days earlier on his first appearance for the Three Lions, struggled to shake off Chiellini's shackles. The second time the pair met was in happier circumstances for Kane, who took just 10 minutes to find the back of the net in a pre-season friendly at Wembley last August which Tottenham won 2-0.

Both those experiences are now very much part of the Kane locker as visualisation has been a key part of the process that has driven the young striker so rapidly to the very top of the game.

"I do like to visualise a lot," he said. "It's just about being positive. When you've played at a stadium before, you definitely remember the whole feeling of it. In my head, I'll be visualising the same sort of occasion but obviously in a Tottenham shirt.

"I know what the stadium is like. I know how big the pitch is. I know what the goals are like. I will just think positive thoughts and go into the game with a clear mind."

It is difficult to say how much truck Chiellini has with such touchy-feely psychological mumbo-jumbo. He is not a big fan of "the beautiful game" and recently accused Pep Guardiola of destroying Italian football, with too many players trying to emulate his tika-taka style.

"The truth is that, playing like this, we lost a few characteristics that have always made Italy great," he has said recently. "Man-marking, the ability to win one-on-one challenges – characteristics that have, down the years, allowed us to produce some great defenders."

At Juventus, under Max Allegri, they are feeling the benefit of this return to old-school habits. Chances are, tonight Kane will feel it too. Right up and down the backs of his legs.

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