How have the FC Bayern youth teams developed so far this season? This is part one of our festive triptych review series. We start with the youngest teams.
Under-16s unnecessarily dropping points
The class of 2001 was dealt a first heavy blow in the pre-season, when the crucial offensive player and youth international Jalen Hawkins tore his ACL. Justin Butler, who was acquired from FC Augsburg in the summer, also did not play any games due to a torn ligament. Nevertheless, the team is surprisingly deep and had a good run in the Under-17s Bavarian league.Danny Schwarz’s team is ranked fourth in the table, only the Under-17s teams from Nuremberg, Greuther Fürth, and Ingolstadt ahead of them.
The team even had the chance to land a few places higher, if not for unnecessarily dropped points against bottom of the league teams Jahn Regensburg, Erlangen-Bruck, and Deggendorf. They also lost on the road against the Under-17s teams in Nuremberg and Fürth. They put up nice performances against FC Ingolstadt’s Under-17s in their 4-0 victory and in the very convincing 2-0 derby win against TSV 1860. The reasons behind the dropped points are somewhat unclear to me, since I only witnessed the 1-1 against Deggendorf, a game in which the team was unable to turn their dominance into clear scoring opportunities. The trademark Bayern problem, if you will. Regardless, fourth place is completely in line with the expectations and if the team acts a little bit cleverer, third place is certainly within their reach.
Danny Schwarz uses a 4-2-3-1 formation for his Under-16s team. Striker Benedict Hollerbach has been playing an exceptional season, not only scoring goals (7 in 11 games), but also setting up his teammates, earning him a call-up to the Under-17s national team and also scoring a goal in his first game against Stuttgarter Kickers. Yannick Brugger and Tidiane M’Baye went the other way; the coaching team decided their personal development will be supported by being regulars in the Under-16s team rather than being bench players in the Under-17s team.
Overall, the class of 2001 seems to be a very good one for the club. The team will move through the ranks in the next three years towards the Under-19s and will be able to compete for the top places. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement in terms of squad depth in the following positions: centre-back, right full-back, and both offensive wings.
Under-15s with lower quality
The problem child between all the strong FC Bayern youth teams is Peter Wenninger’s Under-15s team. It’s currently ranked fifth in the Regionalliga South-West, just behind FC Augsburg as the second-best Bavarian team. The team’s strong side is in defence, leading the league together with Eintracht Frankfurt with only 11 goals conceded. Offence is the big problem: 22 goals in 14 games is not enough, league leader VfB Stuttgart scored three times as many. The Under-15s team lost their final game of the year against this VfB Stuttgart with 0-3 and rightfully so, the Swabians were better in every aspect.
Malik Tillman, the brother of Under-19s player Timothy Tillman, is a one-man show offensively, but he also has some moments of selfishness. Especially the offensive wingers hardly ever stand out. The defensive line is towered by Maximilian Manghofer, who surpassed the 1.80 meter mark already at 14 years. The class of 2002 will probably be the toughest challenge next summer for Timon Pauls’ scouting team and coach Peter Wenninger. The current team does not fulfil the high standards of FC Bayern and thus personnel changes are to be expected. The new academy facilities with their increased capacity for youth players will play their part in significantly improving the team.
Under-14s hibernate as league leaders
The Under-13s and Under-14s teams of the Bavarian top teams created their own separate league system. The “NLZ-Förderliga” (translates to academy support league) of the Bavarian FA (BFV) consists of the eight Bavarian top teams. Their games are played in three 30-minute segments, amounting to 90 minutes playing time. In the regular leagues, the Under-14s only play 70 minutes, with two halves of 35 minutes. After last year’s Under-13s team played a disappointing season, only seven players were kept and a total of 16 new players were brought in, including seven players from FC Augsburg alone.
The new Under-14s team also has a new coach in Alexander Moj, who was brought in from FC Augsburg, too. His team played a fantastic first half of the season. The team won all games up until November. The impressive run was stopped by a random goal in a 4-5 loss against the second-placed team from Nuremberg. Unfortunately, the team was also unable to win their final game of the year in Unterhaching. After missing chance after chance and being denied two clear penalties calls, the 2-2 was conceded in injury time. Thus, the Under-14s team is currently leading the league, but only by one point and with one more game played than second placed Nuremberg.
The team has an outstanding squad with many interesting players whose development in the upcoming years will be interesting to watch. They have a good mixture of small, technically gifted players for the centre and some more physical players. One of their wingers possesses incredible acceleration in his dribblings, which makes him difficult to stop once in full motion with the ball. Whether that advantage will be sustainable in the coming years, we’ll see. In the next season in the Under-15s level, this team will play against teams from all of South-West Germany. Only then a reliable assessment of the general performance level will be possible.
Under-13s and younger: FC Bayern, master in all classes
All other youth teams are in first place in their leagues. Only the Under-11s team is somewhat special, because they only compete in practise games and tournaments, due to the low level of competitiveness against the local Under-11s teams.
The direct comparison with the local rival (“the Blues”) is always important, because they scout in the same region. This comparison is strongly in favour for FC Bayern. The Under-12s team is the only team that has lost a derby against TSV 1860 all season and in all age groups. Bayern is ahead of their local rival in every youth league and thus demonstrating the success of their strong local scouting activities. Head scout Timon Pauls’ team can be proud of their achievements, just like Michael Tarnat and Jürgen Jung, who resigned one year ago, but who’ve also had a strong impact on the teams over the last years.
The overall record of the junior teams is predominantly very positive. Only the Under-15s team is having some troubles in terms of quality. Especially the past experiences with the Under-14s team give some hope that the necessary actions will also be taken for the Under-15s team.