”Kim Min-jae vs Lee Kang-in” canceled in South Korea, will take place at UCL

The Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich)-Lee Kang-in (PSG) matchup that fell through in South Korea could now take place on Europe’s biggest stage.

The draw for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 for the 2023/24 season will take place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, at 8:00 p.m. ET on June 18.

Teams from the same national association (league) cannot be drawn together in the round of 16. Teams cannot be drawn from the same group in the group stage.

After the group stage ended on the 14th, all the teams in the round of 16 were chosen. Among them, Kim Min-jae’s team, Bayern Munich, topped Group A and was seeded first. The first-place team in each group will play the second leg at home.

As a result, Munich will face FC Porto (Portugal – second in Group H), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands – second in Group B), Inter Milan (Italy – second in Group D), SSC Lazio (Italy – second in Group E), Napoli (Italy – second in Group C), and PSG (France – second in Group F) in the round of 16. Leipzig, who finished second in Group G, won’t be in the same league.

One to watch is PSG. With two wins, two draws, and two losses, PSG has eight points and is tied with AC Milan (Italy) with one win and one loss. However, PSG (+2 goal differential against Milan) has a better goal differential than AC Milan (-2 against PSG) and is in second place. They narrowly advanced to the round of 16.

PSG has a world-class striker in Kylian Mbappe, who is a teammate of Kim Min-jae’s and the club’s first Korean player, Lee Kang-in. Bayern Munich-PSG could be a very interesting matchup. It would be the biggest matchup of the Round of 16 if the two teams were to meet in the draw.

The matchup between Kim Min-jae and Lee Kang-in was first seen in South Korea last June, when promoters Untouchable Sports Group and Stadium X organized two friendlies between Napoli (where Kim Min-jae played) and Mallorca (where Lee Kang-in played) on June 8 and 10 at the Seoul World Cup Stadium and Goyang Sports Complex.

The second match (June 10) was eventually canceled on May 19 because the Korea Football Association did not approve it, as six matches were scheduled on the same day, including three K League 1 matches.

The Korean Football Association (KFA) then asked the two companies to confirm that they were willing to host only the first leg, and put a “condition” on them to prove that they could afford to organize a big event like hosting a foreign team.

The KFA gave them two options. They asked for a deposit worth billions of won, or a payment of 800 million won, about 10 percent of the expected revenue from the first leg, along with a special agreement on how to compensate for unforeseen events such as no-shows.

In late May, the KFA finally denied Napoli and Mallorca’s request to schedule the friendly. On May 25, a KFA official said, “We have finally informed the organizers of the two teams that they cannot hold the match. They did not fulfill the conditions we set.”

In the end, the two expatriates, Kim Min-jae and Lee Kang-in, were unable to meet in South Korea this summer, and in the meantime, Kim joined Munich and Lee moved to PSG in the transfer market. Kim immediately became a regular in Munich’s starting defense and has continued to dominate. Lee has also shaken off the effects of a preseason injury to spearhead the PSG attack.

If the two players do meet, we could be in for a Korean derby in the Champions League. The two teams have met in three of the last four seasons. They met in the final in 2019/20, the quarterfinals in 2020/21, and the last 16 in 2022/23.

In addition to the possibility of meeting Lee Kang-in, Kim Min-jae could also meet with his hometown team Napoli. Kim and Napoli won the Serie A title in the 2022/23 season. Napoli won the Scudetto (championship shield) for the first time in 33 years, after winning it in 1989/90 with Diego Maradona (who passed away in 2020).

Kim won a trophy in his first season with the club and was named the league’s best defender before abruptly leaving for Germany. Just half a decade after parting ways, Kim and Napoli are now likely to meet as enemies.

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