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Dayot Upamecano Lived A Defender’s Worst Nightmare

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 11: Dayot Upamecano of Bayern Muenchen looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg match between Manchester City and FC Bayern München at Etihad Stadium on April 11, 2023 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Zemanek/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Michael Zemanek/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Playing against Manchester City seems like the most demanding task in soccer. They move faster and more decisively than any squad in the world this side of Real Madrid. This is because every player on the pitch can pass at a ridiculous level, Pep Guardiola (when he remembers that he's allowed to play defensive midfielders) is capable of putting together perfect gameplans, and even if you position yourself well and anticipate every ball, City still has the god-killing Erling Haaland at the tip of the spear. You have to be perfect. What does it look like when you are straight-up bad? Consider the cautionary tale of Dayot Upamecano.

On Tuesday in the Champions League, Bayern Munich traveled to Manchester on a hot streak, having won all eight of their UCL games while conceding two goals. They got the shit kicked out of them, with the game ending in the somehow flattering scoreline of 3-0. City was ruthless off the ball, cranking up the pressure on Bayern's back-six, which forced Upamecano into one of the worst games of his life. The Frenchman was not the only Bayern player to struggle—Leon Goretzka kicked the ball maybe nine times, and Sadio Mane punched Leroy Sane after the game was over—though he was the team's worst player and his struggles most directly contributed to the result.

Upamecano lost the ball under pressure regularly, gave it away cheaply even when he wasn't pressured, and constantly found himself dragged out of position. He's lucky that his two most egregious mistakes didn't lead to goals. In the 33rd minute, Upamecano flailed at a ball three feet above his head (0:40 in the lowlight reel below) and let City get a clear shot on goal that Yann Sommer barely saved. In the 49th, he sent Sommer a horrid backpass that set Haaland up for a shot that Joshua Kimmich had to hit the deck to block.

Bayern stayed in the game and remained 1-0 down until the 69th minute, when Upamecano dribbled into Jack Grealish and lost the ball without much fuss. Grealish played it to Haaland, Haaland played it across to Bernardo Silva, and Silva headed it into the net easily. Seven minutes later, Upamecano failed to keep track of Haaland on a recycled ball off a corner kick and the Norwegian slammed the door shut with City's third goal of the night.

After the game, Bayern fans were horribly racist towards Upamecano and Bayern players and coaches defended the center back. He will get the chance to redeem himself at home, where hopefully the fans in the stadium will express their support for him and hopefully he can not have a disaster game. At the very least, it can't get worse for him than it did on Tuesday, and there's a world where this awful game is a useful lesson in what it takes to hang with a team as powerful and merciless as Manchester City.

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