Dayot Upamecano has quite arguably been one of Bayern Munich’s most improved players over the last season and a half. After a mistake prone first season with the club, he started to become a mainstay in Nagelsmann’s back line and was always one of the first-choice center backs on the team sheet alongside either Matthijs de Ligt, Lucas Hernandez, or Benjamin Pavard.
It’s not to say that Nagelsmann being replaced by Thomas Tuchel has directly impacted a bit of a dip in form for the French defender, but he did make several key mistakes in Bayern’s 3-0 loss to Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals. The most costly of which came in the 70th minute when he was caught in possession by Jack Grealish deep in Bayern’s defensive third. Grealish played a pass to an overlapping Erling Haaland, who provided a brilliant assist to Bernardo Silva, heading home City’s second goal on the night.
Ahead of Bayern’s 1-1 draw with TSG Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, Tuchel was asked about Upamecano’s performance in the first leg against Manchester City, and he struck a protective tone. “We’ll always protect our players. It brings nothing to tell him that he made a few mistakes. He knows that himself. That was a pity because he was in top form. He’s still developing. We treat each other with respect, critically, without pointing fingers,” he explained (via @iMiaSanMia).
Tuchel did, however, address Upamecano’s mistakes after the 3-0 loss to City, saying post-match that the defender “made a few too many errors.” He went on to say that those mistakes shouldn’t be happening at this level, but that the defender will learn from it. At the time, Tuchel’s remarks weren’t exactly the boost of confidence Upamecano needed, but Tuchel’s frustration perhaps influenced what he said after the full time whistle in what was the second poor result since he’d assumed his role as manager of Bayern, the first being the 2-1 loss to SC Freiburg in the DFB-Pokal.
“He knows he has to improve. There’s no point in pointing fingers at individual players. We have been brutally punished (after his mistake). But we have complete confidence in him. We stand by him, he is young and has big potential,” Tuchel said at his press conference earlier on Tuesday (as captured by @iMiaSanMia).