‘Harsh’ Kim Min-jae’s streak continues? Local expectations are 17 consecutive starts + 15 consecutive full-time starts → Tuchel also mentions ‘unfortunate’ on 20,000km flight

November 24, 2023 | by

Kim Min-jae is expected to return to the starting lineup after playing a hectic schedule recently.

Bavarian Football reported the expected starting lineups for Bayern Munich and Cologne on Thursday (Sept. 24). Munich and Cologne will meet in the 12th round of the German Bundesliga at the Rhein-Energie-Stadion in Cologne, Germany, at 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 25.

This is Munich’s first game after the November A-match period. From here, a tight schedule of matches every three to four days begins until mid-December. Starting with a trip to Cologne, Munich will play a UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage match against Copenhagen and a league match against Union Berlin.

They then take a week off before facing Frankfurt, Manchester United, Stuttgart, and Wolfsburg. On December 21, the team will take a three-week break. In January, the transfer market will open, so it”s important to make sure that the players don”t lose any strength before then.

Munich’s expected starting lineup against Cologne is a 4-2-3-1 formation with Harry Kane up front. Leroy Sane, Thomas Muller, and Kingsley Coman will support him, with Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich in the midfield.

The back four will consist of Alfonso Davies, Kim Min-Jae, Dayo Upamecano, and Konrad Reimer, with Manuel Neuer in goal. Furthermore, Bavarian Football reports that Matthias Der Licht and Jamal Musalla will be absent, while Rafael Guerreiro is also doubtful.

As a result, Kim Min-jae is likely to make his 17th start in all competitions so far this season. It’s been a tough stretch. Kim joined Munich this summer. He is now in his third year in Europe, having left Beijing Guoan for Fenerbahçe ahead of the 2021-22 season. He immediately made an impact and attracted interest from a number of teams.

This led to a transfer just a year after joining Fenerbahçe. Napoli was the first team to snap him up, as they were in need of defensive reinforcements following the departure of Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea. At first, the signing of Kim came with some question marks. Kim had never played in the big leagues before. However, Koulibaly was a veteran of the Italian Serie A for nearly a decade.

It didn’t take long for Kim to prove himself. Kim became a key center back for Napoli, helping the team win their first title in 33 years, since the 1989-90 season. For his efforts, he was named Serie A’s best defender.

Following his time at Fenerbahce, Napoli were linked with a move for him just a year after his arrival. For the big clubs, it made sense to sign him. That’s because there was a €50 million buyout clause in Kim’s contract. Initially, Manchester United were the favorites, but it didn’t lead to any concrete negotiations.

In the meantime, Munich stepped up to the plate. The Bavarians were also in need of center back reinforcements, as Luca Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, who can play both center back and flanker, have both expressed a desire to leave this summer. With only one year left on their contracts, Munich decided to let them go and bring in Kim Min-jae to completely overhaul the defense.

Despite the fact that Kim entered a training center in June for basic military training, the deal went through smoothly. At the end of June, transfer market expert Fabrizio Romano said, “Munich have finalized a personal agreement with Kim Min-jae. The contract is for five years. According to club sources, the player has accepted the offer from Munich,” adding the signature “Here We Go” when a transfer is imminent.

The news of the completion of the medical came in early July, after Kim had completed the ceremony. The news that Munich had paid Napoli a buyout followed, and finally it was official. Kim has signed a contract with Munich until June 2028 and will wear the number 3 shirt.

At the time, Kim Min-jae said, “Munich is every player’s dream club. I’m looking forward to everything that’s to come. When I spoke to the club, I could see how much they wanted me, and that’s why I decided to join. My first goal here is to play a lot of games. After that, I want to win as many trophies as possible.”

Jean-Christian Driesen, CEO of Bayern Munich, said: “Kim Min-Jae has made great strides in his career, winning the Italian Serie A title with Napoli last season and winning the best defender award. His individual abilities as well as his mental strength and speed are incredibly impressive. We are confident that he will inspire our fans with his play.”

So far, Kim seems to have accomplished his first goal. Kim joined the squad without taking any off-season vacation and played a full preseason schedule. This was a strong commitment on his part. During the preseason, he played against Kawasaki Frontele (Japan) and Liverpool, among others, to get a feel for the game.

Kim made his official debut in the German Super Cup against RB Leipzig. He took the field as a substitute, then made his first start in the league opener against Werder Bremen, and has now started 17 consecutive games. A series of injuries to other first-team center back options, including Mathieu De Ligt and Dayo Upamecano, have forced Kim to keep playing.

His performances have not always been met with positive reviews. In late September, German legend Lothar Matthäus said, “Kim hasn’t quite lived up to expectations yet. He may remain a defensive liability for Munich. I don’t have anything negative to say about the signing. He just needs to get used to the Bundesliga quickly.”

Luckily, Kim proved himself once again within a week. He started and played the entirety of the match between Munich and Freiburg, helping his team to a 3-0 victory. At the time, Kim was named one of the best 11 Bundesliga players of the seventh round by German ‘Kicker’. Football statistics outlets TransferMarkt and also ranked him in their top 11.캡틴토토

He was also criticized for his performance against Heidenheim just before the international break in November. On that occasion, he contributed to a goal. In the 25th minute of the second half, Kim Min-jae’s pass was intercepted and Heidenheim started a counterattack. To make up for his mistake, Kim threw himself in to make a tackle on Jean-Niklas Veste’s shot, but the ball deflected and rattled the net on a trajectory that Neuer found difficult to stop. The game ended in a 4-2 victory for Munich, but Kim was heavily criticized.

On the 14th, Germany’s Sport1 reported that “Kim has played 959 minutes of Munich’s 990 league minutes this season. He has played in every game. It can’t be helped. With repeated injuries to Der Licht and Upamecano, the only healthy player is Kim Min-jae,” defending the player’s recent hectic schedule.

The publication continued, “Kim Min-jae can’t even rest during A matches. After playing Singapore in Seoul, South Korea, he has to travel 2,000 kilometers to China. That’s not all. Less than 80 hours after the China game, he will face Cologne. That’s about 20,000 kilometers of flying,” he said, sparking controversy.

Munich head coach Christoph Proint acknowledged this. “We’re all used to seeing him play full-time every game. That can lead to a lack of concentration. It can happen to anyone,” he said.

Of course, he has received his share of praise. In mid-October, global media outlet ESPN named the best players in each age group from 16 to 36. It mentioned that it was based on an indicator called “CPM,” which is a statistical representation of the impact on the game. This is where Kim Min-jae was summoned. Kim was named the best soccer player at 26. He beat out big names like Frankie the Dragon (Barcelona) and Nicolo Varela (Inter Milan).

ESPN said, “Kim is now in his second season in Europe’s top five leagues. Maybe we’re overestimating him because of Napoli’s stellar last season and the fact that he played alongside the likes of Victor Osimhen and Hvitsa Kvarachelia. But we’re voting for him to be the best center back in the world in the next five years,” he said, explaining why he ranked him No. 1.

In other positive news, Kim was ranked 22nd in the Ballon d’Or late last month. France Football, which organizes the Ballon d’Or, held the 2023 Ballon d’Or award ceremony at the Chatelet Theater in Paris, France, on the 31st. The winner of the Ballon d’Or was Lionel Messi. The 2022 World Cup winner in Qatar became the eighth Ballon d’Or winner in his career, surpassing Elling Holland, who also achieved the treble.

There was also interest in Kim Min-jae’s ranking. Kim had previously been included in a list of 30 Ballon d’Or candidates released in early September. He was the only Asian player on the list, and only the fourth South Korean. First, Seol Ki-hyun, who now manages Gyeongnam FC, was included in the list of 50 candidates for the Ballon d’Or during his time at Anderlecht.

The next was Park Ji-sung, the current manager of Jeonbuk Hyundai. Park was nominated for the 2005 Ballon d’Or. The former PSV Eindhoven player had seven goals and five assists in 28 league games in the 2004-05 season. He also had a breakout season in the UEFA Champions League (UCL). He made an immediate impact, scoring in the second leg of the quarterfinals against AC Milan, which led to a move to Manchester United.

However, neither player received any votes. Son was the first to receive a vote. He is also the only player to have been nominated more than once. In the last Ballon d’Or voting for 2022, Heung-min received five points. Heung-min had a phenomenal season in 2021-22, leading the Premier League (PL) in goals, and was ranked 11th in the final ballot.

Heung-min, who was ranked 22nd in the 2019 Ballon d’Or voting, the highest ranking ever for an Asian player, once again proved himself to be the best Asian player by improving his ranking.And once again, South Korea’s Kim Min-jae made the list. He also achieved the same 22nd ranking as Heung-min in 2019.

First of all, Munich has taken special measures to manage the players who played the A-match schedule, including Kim Min-jae. The team will travel to Cologne on the day of the match, as it is a quick turnaround after the break. Normally, they arrive the day before the game, but this time it’s different.

“Munich will travel to Cologne on the day of the match,” said the German publication Bild. This is to be considerate of the players who have A-match schedules. After the game, it will be late and they will have to stay in a hotel. If they traveled the day before the game, they would have to spend two nights in total, so we made this decision to avoid that.”

Tuchel also expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that the match was scheduled as soon as possible after the end of the A-Match schedule. “Now, Kim Min-jae and Davis are just coming back from a long flight. It’s a really unfortunate schedule. They may have already exceeded their physical limits,” he said.


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