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  19 Oct 2021, 12:53

Defensive Sane turns whistles into ovations from Bayern fans

   BERLIN, Oct 19, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - After he was mercilessly whistled by

Bayern Munich fans in August, Leroy Sane has beefed up his defence to silence
disgruntled supporters and justify his 45 million euros ($52 million)
transfer from Manchester City.

  Sane is set to start away to Benfica in Lisbon on Wednesday with visitors
Bayern chasing a third straight Champions League victory to stay top of Group
E after wins last month over Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev.

  Neither club managed to score past Bayern, who have scored eight goals
without reply so far in Europe, and Sane deserves some of the credit after
improving his pressing in the opposition's half.

  As Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann points out, Sane has been "throwing
himself into the defensive work full force. He has made incredible steps in
counter-pressing".

  It's not always been the case.

  Sane joined Bayern from City in 2020, but struggled to make an impact last
season as questions lingered over his defending.

  His attacking skills are beyond question, as he again showed on Sunday at
the heart of Bayern's 5-1 demolition of Leverkusen to top the Bundesliga
table.

  As a 19-year-old, Sane marked his Champions League debut in 2015 against
Real Madrid for ex-club Schalke with a dream goal from the edge of the area.

  He moved in 2016 move from Gelsenkirchen to Manchester and rates his free-
kick for the Citizens against his former club Schalke in 2019 as the "best
goal I've ever scored".

  However, on top of his four goals and seven assists for Bayern this season,
he has shown a newfound resolve to win the ball back.

  - 'Unrecognisable' -

  He presses opponents in their own half and also tracks back, as he did to
snuff out a Dynamo Kiev attack early in Bayern's 5-0 win. That was typical of
his new determination not to neglect his defensive duties.

  In that regards, Sane is "unrecognisable", according to former Liverpool
and Germany midfielder Didi Hamann, now a Sky pundit.

  It's a far cry from the whistles Sane endured in a league game against
Cologne in August when disgruntled Bayern fans made their feelings known
after too many of his passes went astray and he did little to win the ball
back.

  "I didn't want to experience that again," Sane later admitted.

  "I knew I needed time, but it's not like I sat back. I always work hard on
myself and knew it would be tough (at Bayern) because there is a lot of
pressure on you here."

  The proof that he has won over Bayern fans came when Sane received a
standing ovation when substituted after a strong display - with and without
the ball - in a 7-0 thrashing of Bochum in September when he scored with a
stunning free-kick.

  "It is important for every player to have a clear head so that he can
perform at his best," said Nagelsmann.

  "We haven't given Leroy any special treatment, not even after the whistles
against Cologne.

  "It's not advisable to always discuss everything repeatedly. You just have
to let him play."

  Sane's work ethic has also been noted on the international stage.

  He scored against Liechtenstein and Iceland in September before sitting on
the bench as Germany wrapped up qualification for next year's World Cup in
last Monday's 4-0 win over North Macedonia.

  "He floats across the pitch with an ease. Leroy has outstanding skills, but
his self-confidence has returned," Germany coach Hansi Flick told AFP
subsidiary SID.

  "Now he also has the impulse to want to retrieve lost balls".

 

 

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