Dayot Upamecano received a fair amount of criticism following Bayern Munich’s 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach last Friday. The center back did make a handful of mistakes in the Bundesliga opener, but Julian Nagelsmann feels that the criticism was unjustified.
“I did not find the grades he got and the discussion about his performance justified. I didn’t think he was the worst player on the team, that’s for sure. He’s a young player who has to come in first and is also a little nervous before the first game,” Nagelsmann said of Upamecano ahead of the DFL-Supercup against Borussia Dortmund (SportBild).
He was far from Bayern worst performer at Borussia-Park, and per WhoScored, was Bayern’s 5th highest rated player from the match behind Alphonso Davies, Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski, and Niklas Sule. The Frenchman won a total of 8 aerial duels, which was 4 more than the second best Sule and Matthias Ginter, a stat which was perhaps overlooked when criticism was lodged Upamecano’s way.
Nagelsmann knows Upamecano better than anyone else in the Bayern squad, given their time working together at RB Leipzig. He echoed the sentiment that the French center back has more Bundesliga experience than his physical age would show. “He has played so many Bundesliga games that you think he’s already 28. But he’s not. He’s still a young player who needs to get to know his colleagues. Then it might be a tad more error-free,” Nagelsmann stressed.
Upamecano will get his first big test of the season in the DFL Supercup, squaring up against Erling Haaland. He’ll have more than one opportunity to do so this season, and he’s done so before for Leipzig, but the more time passes, the better Haaland gets. Nagelsmann realizes that it will be a difficult task to try and contain the Norwegian striker every time Dortmund faces Bayern this season.
“He is an outstanding player. Everyone knows that when you see his quota, that is extraordinary what he brings on the field for Dortmund. It’s a mix of several things that we have to do. We have to be very focused in the chain. He mustn’t get too much space to run deep. As a central defender, you have to watch the pressure on the ball, but also control it physically. Because it is very robust and incredibly fast at 36 km/h,” Nagelsmann explained.