The recent ‘abuse controversy’ surrounding Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) is set to continue. After Matthijs de Ligt, who was expected to partner him before the season, his regular partner Dayo Upamecano has also gone down with an injury.
Bayern Munich announced on their official website on November 11 (KST), “Following a medical examination, defender Upamecano has been ruled out for the foreseeable future due to a left hamstring muscle injury sustained in the game against Freiburg on September 9. De Ligt, on the other hand, has recovered from his knee injury and is back in running training.”
A hamstring injury usually keeps a player out for up to three to four weeks. On the same day, German outlet TZ also reported that “Upamecano was not called up to the national team due to injury, but will be out for three to four weeks. This means that he will only be able to return against Dortmund in November.”
Gazes naturally turn to Kim Min-jae. He’s already started all but one of Munich’s official matches in cup competitions and has played virtually every minute of every game, making him the centerpiece of the ‘abuse controversy’. De Ligt hasn’t been on the pitch since his injury a season ago, and the Upamecano has consistently combined with Kim Min-jae, but even he has fallen off. “The pressure on Kim Min-jae has become even greater,” said TZ, specifically mentioning that “Kim Min-jae is returning after two 12-hour flights and two A matches, which is why fans are expecting him to not be at his best 스포츠토토.”
In the end, the local media once again labeled Munich’s summer transfer window a “failure”. “The problems that followed Munich’s messy transfer window at the end of August are continuing,” said TZ. While Thomas Tuchel has not publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation, he will want to avoid having Leon Goretzka or Nusair Mazhrawi at center back.”
Munich bolstered their squad in the summer transfer window ahead of the 2023-24 season with the addition of Harry Kane, Kim Min-Jae, Konrad Reimer and Raphael Geheiro. The club spent more than €155 million ($220 million) on transfers last season in an effort to improve upon their disappointing league and UEFA Champions League campaigns.
The problem is the players released. Luca Hernandez (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Pavard (Inter Milan), Marcel Xavier (Dortmund), Daley Blind (Girona), and Josip Stanisic (Leverkusen – on loan), who can play multiple positions, have all left the team. While some underperformed, there were more departures than arrivals, and no additional reinforcements.
To make matters worse, De Ligt’s return has been delayed, and the club has recently toyed with the idea of free agent Jerome Boateng returning. Boateng was already on a downward spiral, having played just 430 minutes in eight games for Lyon in Ligue 1 in the 2022-23 season. It’s a clear sign that there is an “emergency” in the Munich defense. Recently, Shkodran Mustafi (FA) has also been linked with a move away.
The local German media has already pointed out the problems in Munich’s defense. German legend Jürgen Kohler told German outlet Kicker last month, “Munich still concedes too many goals. They concede goals too easily due to individual mistakes.” “Mistakes are repeated. Often the defense is too far away. In the penalty area, agility, quick feet and judgment are important. We are lacking (now) in positioning and anticipation of the ball and the opponent.”
Lothar Matthäus then told Sky Sports on February 2: “Reimer is not a right-back. There are no right-backs in Munich,” he said, adding that “Pavard, Stanisic and Hernandez could have played, but they’re not there anymore” and criticizing Munich’s transfer business.
So for the time being, it’s up to Kim to defend Munich’s last line of defense. Until recently, he was facing a lot of negative publicity locally, with German media outlets Kicker and Bild among others giving him low ratings. Lothar Matthaeus even appeared on Sky Sports on the 2nd and said, “He’s not as good as we expected, and there are still some uncertainties,” referring to Kim. “I’m not trying to criticize the player, but he’s not as good as I expected based on his reputation in Italy. He needs to get used to the Bundesliga first,” emphasizing that expectations were not met.
‘Hoping for Kim Min-jae’ Munich coach Thomas Tuchel also expressed his disappointment with Kim Min-jae. “I love him,” Tuchel told the Bundesliga press office in August, “He’s always calm and straightforward in every aspect of his expression, demeanor, and game. His passes are not overly fancy. The first touch is control, the second touch is passing. It’s not too bouncy, not too slow, not too hard. That’s very good because that’s what you want in a build-up player,” he said. “Very disciplined, friendly, humble and articulate. I had a very good impression of him.” At the time of his signing, the club’s video showed him being greeted enthusiastically on the training ground.
However, Tuchel recently criticized the defense after the Bundesliga 6th round match against Leipzig (2-2 draw), saying, “There were too many mistakes. It was the defense that conceded the goal.” “There was no reason for Kim to go one-on-one. Upamecano didn’t cover him either, he ran out and gave him space. It was the complete opposite (of our instructions),” he said, pointing out specific mistakes by his players. At the time, Munich struggled to contain Roy Offenda. At the time of Offenda’s first goal, Kim Min-jae lost the pace race. The second concession came after goalkeeper Sven Ulreich made a poor decision on a set piece, for which Kim was also criticized.
Bild gave Kim a mediocre rating for his performance on several occasions. Even in the team’s 7-0 win over Bochum, he only gave Kim three points. The same was true in the 3-0 win over Freiburg. The kicker also gave Kim a mediocre rating until recently, but he gave him a 2 for his performance against Freiburg, the highest rating of the defense. Kicker recently released its Best 11 after seven rounds of the Bundesliga and included Kim’s name. This is the first time Kim has been named to Kicker’s Best 11 for a round. In addition, Futscore.com and British outlet 90MIN also included Kim in their respective Bundesliga Round 7 Best 11s.
In that game, Kim attempted a whopping 170 passes in 90 minutes, completing 157 of them (92%). He also filled the stat sheet with four interceptions, nine recoveries, seven aerial ball wins (100%), and two ground ball wins (50%). All while committing just one fumble. Football statistics site Fúscore.com gave Kim a rating of 7.93 on the day. This was the highest score for any defender. Sofascore and Potmob also gave him 7.6 and 8.3, the highest ratings among defenders. He also set a new passing record. According to soccer statistics provider Opta, Kim’s 171 passes were the most in a single game since Leverkusen’s Alexander Dragovic attempted 178 against Düsseldorf in February 2019. If you look at the passing map provided by Opta at the time, you can see that Kim was literally attempting forward passes non-stop.
Meanwhile, he has now been called up to the A squad led by Jürgen Klinsmann, which will play two back-to-back A matches in October (Tunisia on the 13th and Vietnam on the 17th). Despite facing a top-ranked team, it is doubtful that Kim will be able to rest. At the media conference for the A team’s call-up on October 9, Klinsmann said, “The national team is an honor, not just for anyone. When overseas players come to Korea, they will want to play 90 minutes just because they can play in front of the people,” he said, virtually promising an all-out war.
After Kim Min-jae’s back-to-back A matches, the schedule gets even tougher. Munich have a tough schedule ahead of them, with Mainz on the 22nd, Galatasaray on the 25th, and Darmstadt on the 28th. The Bavarians were labeled a “first-tier” defense before the start of the season, but they’ve been hit with an early-season injury bug.