Kim Min-Jae made his Fenerbahçe debut tonight in a home game against Antalyaspor. The "Monster" as he is nicknamed, featured in a 3-4-3 formation as centre-back whilst his defensive teammates Tisserand and Szalai occupied the wing back positions.
This was Min-jae's first start in a game since April 2021 when he last featured for Beijing Guoan in a 2-1 loss to Shanghai Port. So understandably there may have been some rust for the 6'2" defender, however he did not look out of place for his new side. Being trusted by manager Vítor Pereira to hold the central defence in a back three, speaks alot of his faith in Min-jae and has first hand experience as to what he is like as a player from when Pereira managed at Chinese Super League side, Shanghai Port.
The South Korean put in a stalwart performance in a game, where he wasn't called into action much, but did his job well and correctly. Earning himself an 8.1 rating on FotMob (0.1 less than Man of the Match player, Luiz Gustavo with an 8.2 rating.
Fenerbahçe played with a high defensive line, with the fullbacks looking to overlap on the wings whilst Min-jae would move towards the halfway line to present himself as an option, should the attacking phase need to start over again. He did this regularly and was also very good at playing as the last man and pulling the offside trap on the opposition attackers.
He played for 86 minutes before being subbed off and during that time he was instrumental in reading the play. Throughout the game, you could see Min-jae checking his surroundings, checking to see where opposition players were and where the passes were going to go. He constantly sought to put pressure on attackers as soon as the ball would come to their feet, forcing them to play it back as he came in behind them. He regularly looked to intercept the ball, running forward to cut the ball out as soon as it was played. He made 2 tackles, with one being successful to win the ball and looked to create a counter attacking opportunity. When Min-jae received the ball in defence, he mainly looked to supply a pass out to the wings to the aforementioned full backs. That was Fenerbahçe's attacking style during the game, as they looked to get in behind defenders, exposing them on the wings before crossing or cutting a ball back for an attacker in the box. Min-jae made 53 passes with a passing accuracy of 84%. Most of these passes were towards his fullbacks or wingers.
He also looked to get involved in attacking opportunities. Whenever Fenerbahçe would have a corner or freekick, he would make his way into the box and look to be a nuisance for the defenders, using his height for advantage. For freekicks, he tended to opt to run towards the back post, whereas with corners, he would stand more centrally or towards the front post. Min-jae did have a shot on target through a header, however the ball was cleared off the line by a defender. When he did go up for a corner and the ball was lost, he would sprint back into defence and look to challenge any player attempting to counter. There was one moment of this towards the later stages of the game, where Min-jae ran from the opposition box to cut out and pressure the attacker running down the wing on the counter. It allowed his teammates to get back and prevented the counter. His pace and determination to get back was duly noted by those watching and fans on social media.
It was a game which Fenerbahce dominated, both in terms of possession and attacking opportunities, however they failed to be clinical in front of goal until the final 10 minutes, in which they won the game 2-0.
Overall Min-jae had a great debut. Whilst he wasn't called into action much, he still did the basics right and helped his side by constantly pressing and pressuring attackers any time they had the ball. He gave them no option but to pass back, stopping the attack and allowing his team chance to get back and catch their breath. He has been recieved positively by the Fenerbahçe fans, who were impressed by his performance and look forward to seeing more of him. It will certainly be interesting to see how Kim Min-jae does when he plays against a stronger opponent in the league and potentially in the Europa League as well. It is worth noting again, that this was his first competitive football match since April.