Upamecano and teammates still working out the kinks
Heavy burden on Kim Min-jae to be a defensive leader
(27-Bayern Munich) has struggled to adapt to the different environment at his new club. At his last
club, Napoli, he shared the title with a solid group of teammates, but his chemistry with his Munich teammates is not yet perfect.
Kim has faced some criticism in Germany recently. Munich legend Lothar Matthäus publicly criticized
him as a distraction, and Munich coach Thomas Tuchel directly criticized his play after the game,
saying, “He had no reason to go one-on-one at all.”
Despite the criticism, Kim hasn’t been playing much differently than he did at Napoli. He has
struggled this season despite the lingering effects of the basic military training he underwent in South Korea.
Munich came from behind to defeat FC Copenhagen 2-1 in the second leg of their UEFA Champions
League (UCL) Group A second leg tie of the 2023-2024 season at the Farken Stadium in
Copenhagen, Denmark on Thursday (June 4), and Kim Min-jae was at the center of the action. He
anticipated and intercepted the opponent’s penetrating passes and effectively redirected the team’s
attack with accurate long passes. Even when he was in danger of conceding a goal, he showed his
judgment by rushing forward to block a shot.
Outside of Kim, however, there are question marks hanging over the quality of his Munich
teammates. His central defense partner Upamecano showed lapses in concentration in Copenhagen,
losing sight of the opposition striker at crucial moments. The flankers, Alfonso Davies and Nusair
Mazrouei, seem to be more focused on showing off their offensive talents than defending.
The current Munich defense is a far cry from his Napoli days. Last season, Kim Min-jae had a solid
group of defensive colleagues when he led Napoli to their first league title in 33 years.
Ability to handle aerial balls was comparable to Kim Min-jae’s. Flankers Giovanni Di Lorenzo and
Mariu Hui excelled in defense. Kim was able to rely on them to showcase their individual abilities. The
leadership of Napoli coach Luchano Spalletti was also outstanding, as he created a league-leading
defensive organization in just one season after Kim’s arrival.
It’s also worth noting that Munich’s overall form has been on a downward curve. They narrowly lost
the Bundesliga title to Dortmund last season and were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the
Champions League. The poor run of form led to the firing of coach Nagelsmann midway through last season.
As a result, Kim was tasked with leading a Munich defense that was in the process of rebuilding.
With Munich undergoing a major rebuilding and generational change in the midfield and defense,
any further concessions could be blamed on the big-money signing.
With the weight of the world on his shoulders, it will be interesting to see if he can make a name for
himself as the leader of Munich’s defense in the upcoming games. 19가이드03