Kahn says he will win return leg 'on my own'

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The Independent Football

The nickname given to Bayern Munich's goalkeeper after England's 5-1 victory over Germany three years ago was back in circulation yesterday. Oliver Kahn? Oliver Can't.

Harsh but unsurprising, as Kahn's self-confidence, or arrogance, has long spawned as many detractors as admirers. Even after his horrendous error on Tuesday night, which gifted Real Madrid an undeserved draw in their Champions' League second-round first leg, he was extremely bullish.

"Whoever knows me realises that I will rise above it in the return leg. I will win the match in Madrid on my own," Kahn said. That should be some performance since, due to Kahn conceding an away goal, Bayern will have to score at least once in the Santiago Bernabeu on 10 March.

Kahn did, however, admit to feeling vulnerable in the immediate aftermatch of the goal, a Roberto Carlos free-kick which slipped under his body. "You just have thoughts of escape on your mind. You simply want to get out of the place," he said yesterday. "I should be able to stop a ball like that, period. It was one you could stop without arms and legs." Roberto Carlos later admitted he was so sure Kahn would save the ball that he had turned away and not seen the goal.

The error adds to the pressure on Kahn, 34, who appears to have gone through a mid-life crisis since a howler in the World Cup final. His personal life kept the German tabloids busy for months (having taken up smoking and nightclubbing, he left his pregnant wife for a much younger woman) and, professionally, doubts are growing. Last week he failed to catch a high ball to give away a goal in Germany's 2-1 friendly win in Croatia, prompting Arsenal's Jens Lehmann to argue he should be the national side's first choice.

However, if Bayern Munich can recover their form as dramatically as they did on Tuesday, so might Kahn. "I can only hope he will make up for his mistake with fantastic saves in Madrid," said the Bayern president, Franz Beckenbauer, adding: "That was a totally different Bayern. If we played like that in the Bundesliga we would not be seven points behind Werder Bremen."

Bayern squeezed Real in midfield, cutting off the supply line to Ronaldo, Raul and Luis Figo, and forcing David Beckham, who clearly needs a break - something which Los Galacticos never get - to drop deep. From this platform they tore gaping holes in a defence which is palpably inadequate at this level.

In La Liga Real's attacking variety has enabled them to carry their feeble defence but Bayern were a sterner test. The German champions should have scored at least three goals as the ineffective Raul Bravo suggested that Peter Reid was right to discard him at Leeds United last season.

The match highlighted the unbalanced nature of Real's transfer policy. Next season's signing is intended to be either Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy or Francesco Totti, none of whom appear available. The club president, Florentino Perez, would settle for Michael Owen but the coach, Carlos Quieroz, needs a defender.

They have been linked with Valencia's Roberto Ayala in the past but, as one well connected Premiership observer noted on Tuesday, Gareth Southgate would suit, not least for his organisational skills. The same, of course, currently applies to Manchester United.

Bayern, for whom Owen Hargreaves was quietly influential in midfield, should not be written off for the second leg, but Real's front half will surely not play so badly again. The back half will, which is why a 10th European Cup success seems unlikely.

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