Despite being probably the star signing of the summer, recently, Matthijs de Ligt only has to be content with his reservist role.
So far, the Dutchman has only been able to come from the bench rather than starting from the first minute. Currently, head coach Julian Nagelsmann prefers a defensive duo with the two Frenchmen, Lucas Hernandez, and Dayot Upamecano, who have visibly performed very well since the start of the preseason.
The situation with de Ligt should not be worrying, as he has trained almost every day individually and is doing extensive exercises with fitness coach Prof. Dr. Holger Broich in order to improve his fitness. It should be no wonder why Nagelsmann prefers Upamecano and Hernandez in the defense.
The French duo has performed very well since the start of the preseason. Although a few mistakes from them were a little bit allowed here and there, overall in the current state, it’s safe to say that they have quite impressed, especially in the last two games. This impression in performance and training has also been noted by Nagelsmann.
In yesterday’s press conference ahead of the match against VfL Wolfsburg, Nagelsmann explains why Upamecano and Hernandez are currently set in defense: „I think they’re very focused right now and are not making any silly mistakes. They aren’t facing 1v1 situations where they’re pressing with higher risk. Upa did very well against Frankfurt. When it comes to possession and the build-up, they have also gained composure“.
Dayot Upamecano did not have an easy start at Bayern Munich. As someone who came for a very high amount of money, the pressure was really high. His mistakes were also quite visible and earned criticism from Nagelsmann quite a few times.
However, the Frenchman made a steady improvement by the end of the season, and by the looks of it, the young defender doesn’t seem to have confidence problems anymore. This drastic improvement has also been noted by Nagelsmann.
According to the coach, Upamecano has gained more composure than he did before: “Upa no longer tries to play all the first balls forward, he is more patient. This helps his passing quality which is better than last year when he tried to open the game from the first pass. He became more patient and calmer.“
Nagelsmann continues: „His biggest asset is his physical form. He came back in better shape from his vacation. He had more problems last year when he was running. This year, he is more confident, with no major problems. He is very fit and far ahead. He doesn’t need to think about whether he should run or not. He has no physical problems. So I think both (Upamecano and Hernandez) are currently capable of putting in great performances.“