Kim Min-jae earns rave reviews.
Bayern Munich drew 2-2 with Bayer Leverkusen in the fourth round of the 2023-24 German Bundesliga at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET. The result extended Bayern’s unbeaten run in the league to four games, but the Bavarians fell short on goal difference and failed to leapfrog into first place.
The defending champions have made changes this season as they look to continue their dominance. The departures of Luca Hernandez, Vincent Favre, Ryan Grabenberger, Sadio Mane, and Marcel Xavier have thinned the squad’s depth, but the club has added to it with the signings of Kim Min-Jae, Harry Kane, Konrad Reimer, and Raphael Guerreiro. The possibility of further departures was raised in the final days of the transfer window, but thankfully there were no further leaks.
The league then kicked off with a Super Cup match against Leipzig. The game itself didn’t mean much, but we were desperate for a win, not only because it was right before the start of the league, but also to make a good impression on newcomers like Kane and Kim Min-jae. The result was a disaster. The Bavarians were unable to lift the trophy, falling to Leipzig 0-3.
The Bavarians then entered the league schedule. They shook off their Supercup disappointment and continued to cruise. They faced Werder Bremen in their league opener and exploded for a whopping four goals in a 4-0 win. Kane, who started the game, scored a goal and added an assist, earning his first offensive points since joining Munich. With the momentum going his way, Kane continued his stellar play in the second leg. He scored a multi-goal performance against Augsburg, leading his team to a 3-1 victory.
In their final game before the international break, the Bavarians ended on a high note. They traveled to Borussia Mönchengladbach, a tough opponent, and came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Sane and Tell. This broke the jinx of never winning away to Mönchengladbach.
The fourth-round opponent was Leverkusen. A formidable opponent. Last season, Leverkusen struggled, languishing in the bottom half of the table for the first half of the season. However, after the arrival of Xabi Alonso, they started to rise. This has continued this season. Leverkusen got off to a good start with a 3-2 win in their opening match against Leipzig. They followed that up with a clean sheet against Mönchengladbach and another high-scoring game, winning 3-0. The third-round match against Darmstadt was a 5-1 thrashing, and we moved above Munich into first place in the league.
A six-point game. Both teams went on the offensive. Munich brought a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Kane starting alongside Gnabry, Muller, Sane, Kimmich, Goretzka, Davies, Kim Min-jae, Upamecano, and Reimer, with Ulreich in goal. Against them, Leverkusen utilized a 3-4-2-1 formation. Boniface, Wirz, Hoffmann, Grimaldo, Xhaka, Andriy, Frimpong, Topsova, Tah, and Kosunu filled out the starting lineup, with Hradecki in goal.
South Korea’s “iron pillar” Kim Min-jae started once again. After playing for Jeonbuk Hyundai, Fenerbahçe, and Napoli, Kim has established himself as a world-class center back. A year after breaking into the big leagues, Kim was instrumental in leading Napoli to the Scudetto last season and was named the best defender in the Italian Serie A after the season.
He was recently named to the Ballon d’Or shortlist. On July 7, the Ballon d’Or revealed the list of 30 finalists for the Ballon d’Or on its official social media accounts, and Kim Min-jae’s name was among them. He was the only Asian player to be nominated.
His majesty can be better understood by looking at the list as a whole. Due to the nature of their positions, players who play an offensive role are in the spotlight more and are more represented in the Ballon d’Or nominations. Once again, the list is dominated by strikers. Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann, Elling Holland, and more. Out of the 30 players, a majority of 15 were strikers. That number is even higher when you add in midfielders with offensive capabilities like Kevin De Bruyne, Jamal Musalla, Martin Ødegaard, and Jude Bellingham.
There are only three defenders. They include Kim Min-jae, Manchester City’s treble winner Jubeng Dias, and Joshko Gbardiol, the biggest star of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Given the impact of these two players, Kim Min-jae’s influence can only be felt indirectly.
As an Asian player, he can also expect to make history. The last Asian player to win the Ballon d’Or was Son Heung-min in 2022. At the time, Heung-min was the top scorer in the Premier League (PL) in the 2021-22 season with 23 goals in the league alone, which earned him five points and 11th place overall. He was also a Ballon d’Or finalist in 2019, finishing 22nd, so his 2022 performance was a huge boost to his all-time ranking.
Kim Min-jae has become an integral part of Munich’s defense. Once again, he was paired with Upamecano. Before kickoff, the general consensus was that the pair would form a duo, but Tuchel opted for Upamecano as his partner. Upamecano started from the opening match and steadily cemented his place in the starting lineup, while Der Licht continued to be named on the bench.
Two teams on the rise. The match was a tight affair. At the start of the first half, it was Munich on the attack. In the second minute, Kimmich’s pass found Gnabry, who tried to score with a left-footed shot from a difficult angle in the box, but the ball went wide left of the goal. In the third minute, Reimer fired a left-footed shot from the right side of the box off a pass from Sane, but the keeper made the save.
He also scored the opening goal. Kane was the hero. In the sixth minute of the first half, a corner kick led to an opportunity and Kane, who was in the box, headed the deflected ball over the head of the opposing defender to open the scoring. After being quiet in the last league game, Kane proved his worth in this one, once again finding the back of the net. It was his fourth goal of the league.
With the lead, Munich pushed for more. In the 11th minute, Sane picked up the ball just outside the box and took a bold left-footed shot, but he didn’t quite get the impact right and the ball sailed well over the bar. After several close calls, Leverkusen went on the attack. In the 23rd minute, Boniface received a pass from Grimaldo and attempted a right-footed shot from inside the box that was blocked by Kim Min-jae and deflected for a corner. The corner was uneventful.
After clinging to a narrow lead, Munich equalized. It was a wonder goal. In the 24th minute, a foul on Muller in the box gave away a free kick, and Grimaldo, who stepped up to take the kick, took it himself and rattled the Munich net.
In the final minutes of the first half, the teams traded blows. Leverkusen, led by Wirz and Boniface, used quick counterattacks to torment Munich’s defense, while Munich, led by Sane and Gnabry, used their speed to find the back of the Leverkusen net. However, no further goals were scored and the half ended 1-1.
Despite the 1-1 scoreline, the game was predictably dominated by Munich. They dominated possession with 58% and threatened Leverkusen’s goal with a whopping six of their 12 shots on target. Leverkusen also pressured Munich with three shots on goal.
The second half was evenly matched. Leverkusen looked to take control of the game through fierce ball battles in the middle of the park, and six minutes into the second half, Boniface tried to break the deadlock with an audacious mid-range shot. An offside call saved the day for Munich. In the 10th minute of the second half, a mistimed pass from Ulreich gave Leverkusen the ball and Frimpong tried to shoot directly at the goal from inside the box, but the keeper saved. Luckily, the referee called offside.
As the game drew to a close, the attacks intensified. In the 19th minute of the second half, Munich won a corner on the counterattack, and Sane sent in a cross that Upamecano, who was in the box, headed over the bar, but he didn’t quite get the right impact and it went over the bar.
Leverkusen missed a crucial chance. In the 32nd minute, Birz, who linked up well with Boniface, fired a low, quick shot from the left side of the box that beat Ulreich and headed towards goal, but the ball hit the post and didn’t result in a goal. After failing to capitalize on the opportunity, Birz immediately put his head in his hands and expressed his disappointment.
Just as it looked like the game would end 0-0, Munich took the lead once again in the closing minutes of the second half. In the 40th minute, Goretzka received a pass from Teller in the box and flicked the ball with his left foot into the Leverkusen net. Five minutes before the end of regulation time. It was looking more and more like a win for Munich, who had taken the lead at home.
But Leverkusen was no pushover. There was some ‘drama’ in the air. In second-half stoppage time, Hoffmann was tripped by Davies in the box and the referee awarded a penalty after video assistant referee (VAR) review. Palacios stepped up to the plate and calmly slotted home the equalizer. The game ended 2-2.
Munich’s winning streak halted. The Bavarians remained unbeaten in the league, but failed to leapfrog into first place. Leverkusen is still in first place. They are tied with Munich on points (10), but have a one-goal advantage in goal difference and sit atop the table.
Kim Min-jae got the start and was outstanding. In his last league game, he made several mistakes with his forward passes, but in this game, his forward passes were more precise and steady. His ratings were also good: soccer stats site Sofascore gave him a 7.4 rating. This was the highest rating among the back four and the third best on the team, behind Sane and Muller.
The detailed metrics were also good. Kim had excellent defensive stats with three clears, two blocks, one interception, and two tackles. He won two ground battles out of four attempts and made one key pass. He totaled 118 touches of the ball. His passing success rate was a whopping 91%. What’s even more impressive is that he attempted over 100 passes. He even showed off his offensive abilities in the first half, shooting from inside the box.
The British outlet 90min gave him a 7 rating, saying, “He has become a comfortable presence in the defense. His passing has become more solid. Definitely a bargain” and praised the player. 먹튀검증
On the other hand, Tuchel was disappointed with the result. “We played well in the first 20 minutes,” he said in the post-match interview. But the last 20 minutes were not good. There was no reason. It continued in the second half. There were times when we were in control and times when we were not. We scored a lucky goal in the second half that seemed to put the game away, but in the end we were held accountable for our actions.”
On the penalty kick in second-half stoppage time, he was coy: “The referee didn’t blow the whistle. From my point of view, it’s not a clearly wrong decision that the VAR should be involved. It doesn’t matter what I say at this point,” he said.