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Kim Min-jae outdoes van Dijk at his UEFA debut game

Posted September. 09, 2022 07:28,   

Updated September. 09, 2022 07:28


South Korean soccer player Kim Min-jae contributed to his team’s victory at his debut in the UEFA Champions League, the world’s most famous football competition, leaving a strong impression on coaches and teammates. “Kim was like a monster and did not let the opponent launch an attack,” said Napoli head coach Luciano Spalletti.

Kim played the full match on Thursday as a central defender in Group A match against Liverpool and contributed to Napoli's 4-1 win. With his stable defense against strikers from Liverpool, which won the second place in the last season’s Champions League and is currently ranked at No. 2 in the UEFA clubs, Kim successfully landed on ‘the stage of the stars.’

Kim Min-jae showed an ability that outdid Virgil van Dijk, one of the best centre-backs of the time. He surpassed van Dijk in clearing the ball, blocking the shot, intercepting the ball, and fighting for the ball. In 2019, Van Dijk won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award, the first defender for winning the award. Playing for the Dutch national team, van Dijk, being a tall person with a height of 193 centimeters, is known for agility and fast speed that makes the opponent strikers exhausted. van Dijk’s aerial ability is exceptional, particularly when he defends the goalpost.

Mohamed Salah, a Liverpool striker who tied with Tottenham’s Son Heung-min in scoring last season, managed to make a shot until the 17th minute in the second half, which was blocked by Kim Min-jae. Darwin Nunez, a newbie striker of Liverpool, came on the 17th minute in the second half, but did not make an effective shot owing to Napoli defenders. Nunez plays for the Uruguay national team, which belongs to the Group H of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Napoli overwhelmed Liverpool by 4-1.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com