Dayo Upamecano’s form isn’t coming back as fast as we thought.
It’s safe to say that Upamecano’s 2022-23 season has been heaven and hell. The German soccer publication Kicker evaluates players every season, and it’s called the Langiste. 안전놀이터 The ratings are divided into World Class, International Class, and National Class.
In the first half of the 2022-23 season, Upamecano was the best player in the German Bundesliga. Along with Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), he was the only player recognized as International Class. No other player was recognized as a World Class player. That’s because they were so good in the first half. Matthias Der Licht was fourth in the national classification.
But Upamecano didn’t even make the list in the second half of the evaluation. The Kicker commented: “Upamecato has fallen after topping the rankings in the first half. Good performances were mixed with head-scratching mistakes,” adding that Upamecano’s defensive stability was a serious issue. At the top of the second half was Mathias der Licht.
Munich were in desperate need of a new center back after Luca Hernandez requested a transfer. That’s where Kim Min-Jae came in, after discussions with the club. His stability was one of the best in Europe in 2022-23.
At the press conference announcing his signing, Bayern Munich CEO Jan-Christophe Dresden praised his stability, saying, “He was named the best defender in the Italian Serie A and only received five red cards.”
Kim played an aggressive defense all season long and managed to keep his cautions under control despite having a very large defensive area to cover. The kind of defense that Munich and coach Thomas Tuchel will be looking for from Kim will likely not be too different from his time at Napoli, so he has a lot to commend him for.
Locally, the Uffa Meccano’s defensive stability was a major concern. At the time of Kim’s transfer, Kicker wrote, “The future central defense will consist of Kim and Der Licht. Upamecano needs to play better if he doesn’t want to be the first-choice player,” predicting that the Kim-Minjae-Der Licht combination would become a mainstay.
Upamecano needed to prove to Tuchel that he had made a difference by performing well when Kim was not yet fully fit.
But Upamecano didn’t disappoint. Upamecano was no less involved in Munich’s 1-2 preseason loss to Manchester City on Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
Partnered with Benjamin Pavard, Upamecano looked bewildered on several occasions by City’s aggressive play. Upamecano was not in perfect shape for his first preseason game, but he was too shaky.
The problems started in the 21st minute. Rico Luis dribbled in front of Upamecano. Luis made a good run, but Upamecano didn’t handle the ball well enough and was beaten. He followed but couldn’t keep up with Lewis’ pace, which led to James McAteer’s goal.
Once Upamecano started to falter, he continued to falter. In the 37th minute, he failed to deal with a routine long ball headed his way and gave the ball away to Julian Alvarez. The ball went straight to Luis, and Munich were in danger of conceding. If it wasn’t for Fabar’s cover, it would have been a goal.
The opponent was City, but they weren’t exactly a first-team squad either: only Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva were in the starting lineup in attack and midfield. Lewis, who Upamecano struggled to contain, is a 2004-born prospect who is City’s backup.
Just before the end of the first half, he had a miscommunication with Jan Zomer. The two were exchanging light passes when Upamecano and Zomer lost the ball. It was more of a mistake on Zomer’s part, but Upamecano’s passing choices were also poor. Upamecano was subbed off at half-time.
If City had started with a full-strength lineup, Upamecano might have been more of a problem. Soccer stats site Couch Score gave Upamecano a rating of 6.6 after the game. This was the third worst rating behind Jan Zomer and Nusair Mazrouei. With performances like this, Tuchel would never use Upamecano.
Upamecano’s decline is good news for Kim Min-jae in terms of the competition for a starting spot. It’s not hard to do worse than Upamecano. However, when analyzed on a team level, it’s not a good situation. Tuchel often plays with a three-man defense. It’s likely that a back three of Kim Min-jae, Der Licht, and Upamecano will be in place, but with Upamecano’s current form, it will be difficult to perfect the team’s tactics. This is why Kim Min-jae can’t help but smile.
Upamecano cost the same amount of money as Kim at €60 million ($84.6 billion). He was born in 1998 and still has the potential to improve, and he’s even represented France. He joined Munich ahead of the 2021-22 season and cost €42.5 million.