Kim Min-jae kept a clean sheet in his German Bundesliga debut for 68 minutes to kick-start Bayern Munich’s title run.안전놀이터
Bayern Munich defeated Werder Bremen 4-0 in the first round of the 2023-2024 Bundesliga on Monday (Sept. 19) at the Weserstadion in Bremen, Germany. Kim Min-jae made his Bundesliga starting debut at left center back for Bayern, partnering with Dayo Upamecano.
After a 0-3 loss to RB Leipzig in the German Football League (DFL) Super Cup a week earlier, Bayern was back to its best. The team as a whole has emerged from the turmoil a bit, and the conditions for Kim to play in have improved.
In terms of his role, Kim played less up front and more behind than Upamecano. This is the role that Matthijs Duricht played last season. Upamecano is a player that Kim describes as “similar to me,” with a wide radius of action and similar play, including dribbling forward. Upamecano was left to his own devices in this role, with Kim focusing on covering the back and playing more steady defense.
Kim’s strengths in the buildup shone through, and unusually, the best situations often came when he released the ball directly to the secondary, rather than through midfielder Jozua Kimmich, who has been Bayern’s buildup hub. His passes are structurally close enough for left-back Alfonso Davies, left winger Kingsley Coman, and central attacking midfielder Jamal Musial to drop down and receive. When he saw his teammates approaching, he was free to play either a centering pass or a flanking pass, which would immediately trigger an attack from a quicker teammate. In doing so, Kim made two key passes, which is unusual for a center back.
He also cleared the ball out of tight situations with a high rate of success. Even at Napoli, one of Kim’s strengths was that even when a play was counted as a clearance rather than a pass, he didn’t just kick it away, but gave it to a teammate as much as possible to help them attack.
This was the case for the first goal. In the third minute of the first half, Kim Min-jae broke up an opponent’s attack with his head and passed it to Musiala. Leroy Sane then picked up the ball and played a 2-on-1 pass with Harry Kane before finishing with a goal.
In terms of possession, there was little to show for it and a low success rate. Instead, it was the headers that threatened. In the 45th minute, he took a corner kick and headed it accurately, but the ball ended up in front of the goalkeeper.
Minjae’s position at the back of the defense meant that he was responsible for the offside trap, which was essential to prevent Bremen’s powerful duo of Niklas Fühlkrug and Marvin Duchesne from penetrating. In this respect, Kim excelled. Even what looked like a super save from Sven Ulreich in the 40th minute was actually the result of the referee’s energy.
At the start of the second half, Bremen’s pressing intensified, and the Bayern defense was tested more often. This is where Kim Min-jae played a key role in keeping the clean sheet, especially with the offside trap. In the seventh minute of the second half, he pulled off an offside trap, but when Duchesne broke through and took a shot, he persisted and made a ‘super block’. It was a difficult situation where he had to run forward and then immediately turn back, but his concentration and acceleration after the stop were outstanding.
In the 10th minute of the second half, we received our first Bundesliga warning. Bremen’s counter-attacking pass to Fulkruk was followed by Kim Min-jae, who tried to take the ball away with a shoulder shove and was booked. In Italy, similar incidents rarely resulted in a caution, highlighting the need to adapt to the Bundesliga’s officiating style.
As Bremen’s pressure intensified, there were several instances where Kim’s passing was unsettled, with a Bremen player picking up a ball that Kim had barely managed to defend, leading to a second goal scare. Kim was the first to go to the bench in the second half, being replaced by Düricht in the 22nd minute. The two center backs, who were not fully fit at the start of the game, seemed to be testing each other’s fitness. As he came off the bench, Thomas Tuchel approached him, clasped his hand and gave him a pep talk.
In the end, Kim’s debut ended with a decent performance. He was the second fastest of the 22 players on the field, behind only Kingsley Coman. When he fouled out in first-half stoppage time and went back to his own end, he protested lightly with a hand gesture, a gesture that seems to have become ingrained in him after living in Italy for a year. Kim also uses some of the phrases and gestures he learned in Naples, such as spontaneously saying “Mamma Mia” to acquaintances.