“Hi, my name is Min-jae!” This is how Kim Min-jae introduced himself to FC Bayern Munich last summer. “Hi, I’m fine,” the South Korean defensive giant might be thinking at this point.
Kim has played 959 of a possible 990 minutes for the record champions in the current Bundesliga season, and the 27-year-old played all four Champions League matches over the full distance on Wednesday.
A lot is expected from the new signing and there is no real recovery in sight even during the international break: how long will it last?
First of all it must be said: Kim is nicknamed “Monster” – and not for nothing. The sturdiness and tackling strength of the 1.90m tall man, who played for SSC Napoli last season Scudetto word spread quickly through his new foster home.
Kim’s situation at FC Bayern, however, represents another new challenge for the champion defender: in a not overly populated defensive structure with only three nominal central defenders, the South Korean is the only one who is consistently fit – and therefore must stretch especially difficult where others cannot stretch.
Matthijs de Ligt is still unavailable due to a partial tear of the internal ligament in his right knee, Dayot Upamecano was recently absent with a thigh injury.
Tuchel: “Intense matches, also for the head”
And Kim? Always play. Because he has to. The only match Kim missed was the first round of the DFB Cup against Preußen Münster. Since then, much of his weight has rested on his broad shoulders, which manager Thomas Tuchel generally considers very heavy.
“There were two very intense games this week, also for the head. Lots of changes, I’m very happy and grateful for the three points,” the coach said at the weekend after the 4-2 win against Heidenheim Sky-Microphone.
In the two matches in question (Heidenheim and Galatasaray), Kim was challenged as always, he played well for the majority of the time, but in the end he could not get rid of the tiredness in his head that Tuchel identified as a danger.
In the Champions League, the South Korean was outmaneuvered by scoring the 1-2 late with a single long pass from the center of the circle, thus losing the running duel against Cédric Bakambu and ultimately failing to decisively prevent him from finishing. .
The next incident came against Heidenheim. Monaco were leading 2-0 and the game seemed completely under control. But Kim played a poor pass in his build-up play to the feet of Heidenheim’s Jan-Niklas Beste, who scored 1-2 and started the temporary comeback.
The mistake is reminiscent of a similarly botched pass with which Kim conceded a goal against Monaco in the build-up to Unterhaching.
Friend: “He’s at the limit”
“Min-jae has been playing 90 minutes every match for months, even with the national team. He’s just a little tired, he’s at his limit. Loss of concentration happens, he is human,” sporting director Christoph Freund said apologetically Sky its defense leader.
In some cases, the lack of concentration had worse consequences than against Heidenheim and Unterhaching: in the cup defeat against Saarbrücken, before the 1-1 draw, Kim played an unnecessary pass to the pressured Frans Krätzig, who wasted the ball.
The goal started the sensational knockout – and Tuchel said it openly: “(Kim’s) decision; Note d. Red.) It’s definitely not nice to play on Frans under full pressure. The Frenchman is broken. Min-jae then begins the duel, which is a 50/50 duel. He can also stand and push it away. This still happens to us too often. We take risks when we don’t have to.”
However, what Bavaria faces is also a risk, but the question is what the alternative is amid a short-staffing situation and a consistently tight schedule.
Kim: 80 hours between the Chinese national team match and the return of the Bundesliga
Kim will also be busy during the national break: on Thursday, South Korea will play the World Cup qualifier against Singapore in the capital Seoul, and the following Tuesday there will also be an official match against China in Shenzen, over 2,000 kilometers away – less than 80 hours later, on Friday evening in Cologne, the Bundesliga will return.
If you add up all the flight kilometers of the trip, you get distances of around 20,000 kilometres.
The stress level remains high, which Kim probably won’t complain about. Consider that in the FC Bayern introductory video he revealed that he used to roll the car tires up a hill to go faster. And that he chose this sport because football “with its high intensity of running” would have been particularly suitable for him.
Yet sooner or later even a monster gets tired and FC Bayern must, in its own interest, carefully evaluate when is the right time to give it the necessary breaks.