Season Start for the Youth

FC Bayern’s amateurs will start the new season even before the official end of the old season with the final of the World Cup next week. Today at 6:45 pm (live at Sport1) the Bayern youth team will play the opening match of the Regionalliga Bayern 2018/19 at VfB Eichstätt. We’ll tell you what to expect from the team this season. Author: Martin • Translator: Marc

In our last report about the youth last season after the 3:1 derby victory we recommended Tobi Schweinsteiger as the successor on the sidelines after Tim Walter’s change. The headlines in recent days have shown that the opposite has happened and the team’s former co-coach is currently without a contract with FC Bayern.

The Trainer

After numerous well-known names were traded in the media and one or the other person was also traded behind the scenes, the choice of the head coach fell somewhat surprisingly on Holger Seitz at the end. Born in Lower Bavaria, he was already an active player and captain for the record champion’s reserve. After working for SC Fürstenfeldbruck and the Bavarian Football Association, he became coach of the U19 in 2015, reaching the final of the German A-Junior Championship in 2017, which was lost on penalties at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund. He then took over the U17 and led the team to the final, in which BVB again took the upper hand.

In April, despite his good work, Seitz’s time at FC Bayern seemed to have passed with the rumours about Miroslav Klose. This made him interesting for other clubs as well. According to reports, Seitz had received an attractive offer from the youth department of another South German Bundesliga team. But Seitz remained calm and patient, two qualities that characterize him and perhaps sometimes underestimate him. Promotion to the U23 is a fair reward, also for his personal development.

His first season with FC Bayern was difficult. The U19 at times moved frighteningly close to the relegation spots. If there hadn’t been three points on the table after those responsible at FC Bayern in Nuremberg were attacked by local Ultras, there would have been a real problem with class retention. However, there is no doubt that the quality of the squad at that time could not be compared with that of the current U19 coach Sebastian Hoeneß.

In the second season, which ended with the final defeat in Dortmund, his team played somewhat inconsistently for a long time. The trainer decided to attach great importance to the defensive organization and standards. This was a measure that paid off in the end and brought forward the development of defensive players such as Maxime Awoudja and Niklas Tarnat. Above all, the transfer of Felix Götze, who was actually offensive, to central defence was a complete success and certainly the decisive factor in turning a supplementary player in the U19 into a Bundesliga player at FC Augsburg.

Last season Holger Seitz continued his upward trend. “The U17 is nothing this year” was heard before the season by the managers of FC Bayern. But Seitz and the team proved them wrong. They played the strongest U17 season in points for FC Bayern since the introduction of the Bundesliga in 2007, showed both the best offense and the best defense and lost the final completely undeservedly despite clear superiority with 2:3.

In his three years, Holger Seitz developed not only his players but also himself. When a Mehmet Scholl criticizes all of Germany’s youth work in public, he does not react reflexively like the majority of the Republic. Instead, he puts the topic on the agenda of the meeting of his coaching staff and reflects calmly on the extent to which Scholl’s criticism hits a real core. So Holger Seitz will never be caught criticising a player for losing a ball during a dribble on the offensive. He explicitly demands that the offensive players dare to do something. This always involves the risk that the opponent will gain the upper hand.

The Outgoings

For long-term observers of the amateurs of FC Bayern it is a matter of routine, for outsiders it is unusual every year: This summer the team again lost half of its regular players. For many players it was simply time to take the next step in their development. So Dorsch, Benko and Pantovic finished their third season with the amateurs, but the change to a higher division club was overdue. It is important for all our youth work that we not only develop one or two of our own professionals in the coming years, but also establish ourselves as the ideal stepping stone into professional football. The only criticism is that all three were able to leave the club on a non-redeemable basis. But the training strategy and the monetization of the work of the next generation offers enough substance for an own article in the next weeks.

All three of them were important supporters of the team last season under Tim Walter as well as Felix Götze, who is going to FC Augsburg. FC Bayern could have insisted on the fulfilment of the contract, but the opportunity offered to Götze was so attractive that they did not want to put any obstacles in his way. Furthermore, all-rounder Raphael Obermair (Sturm Graz) and Timothy Tillman left the amateurs. The latter will be seen in the 1. FC Nuremberg jersey next season, but more likely as a guest in the Hermann Gerland Stadium than in the Allianz Arena. Tillman has recently stagnated too much in his development, so that without injuries to his teammates he was more a substitute than a regular player in the regional league.

Leo Weinkauf, once the fourth goalkeeper, made it into the Bundesliga squad of Hannover 96, but the retirements of Isherwood, Hingerl, Gschwend, Micheli and Rössl do not matter. In total, the amateurs lose five to six regular players, a quite normal quota for the season change.

New Arrivals

On the goalkeeper position Ron Torben Hoffmann takes over the place of Weinkauf. Hoffmann, who signed a professional contract, will probably share the role as the third goalkeeper of the pros as well as the place in the starting line-up of the amateurs. Michael Netolitzky is the replacement for Andreas Rössl and should only be used in an emergency. Based on last season’s experience, FC Bayern decided to add Maurice König as a fourth goalkeeper to the squad. Since Früchtl and Hoffmann often work with Toni Tapalovic in professional training, König will close the gap in amateur training and be available for emergencies.

Right-back Mert Yilmaz and centre-back Kilian Senkbeil come from RB Leipzig. While the former may well calculate chances for a regular place, Kilian Senkbeil will have to line up behind Feldhahn, Awoudja and Lukas Mai, who moved up from the U19, whereby he benefits from the injuries of the latter two at the beginning of the season. An additional option is Jonathan Meier, who can take over the left part of the emerging triple chain. Due to his cruciate ligament rupture, Theo Rieg will not play a role in the coming season.

In midfield, Maximilian Welzmüller, a new member of VfR Aalen, stands out. The experienced third-league player takes over the position from Niklas Dorsch and will pull the strings in midfield together with Adrian Fein. From the U19 of the 1. FC Kaiserslautern Paul Will joined the amateurs. The strong player was convincing in the preparation with his presence in the centre, but should lose out to his more experienced colleagues at the start of the season. Maxi Zaiser’s role will likely remain that of an additional player.

Neuzugang Paul Will im Testspiel gegen den FC Ismaning
New player Paul Will in test game against FC Ismaning

In the offensive, Meritan Shabani and Woo-yeong Jong are the most prominent new options. Jeong could only play one half time in Salzburg due to an injury, but was convincing all along the line. Meanwhile, Shabani will have to improve in men’s football in order to play to his truly outstanding abilities. Holger Seitz had to admonish him again and again during the test games to be more alert during switching actions and to return to the game faster after lost duels. Maximilian Franzke and Mathis Lange represent more of a complement to the management team.

Formations and Tactics

In all test matches Holger Seitz let the team act in a 3-4-3, therefore this formation is to be expected also at the beginning of the season. In front of Früchtl in the goal is veteran and captain Nicolas Feldhahn. The two places next to him should be taken during the season by Lukas Mai and Maxime Awoudja, but both are missing due to injury at the start of the season. Kilian Senkbeil and Jonathan Meier, and perhaps also Paul Will, are the first candidates for these vacant positions.

In the center of the midfield there is no way around Adrian Fein (who will change to the Bundesliga next summer at the latest) and Maxi Welzmüller. On the left wing, Derrick Köhn, scorer for 3-1 in the derby, is the first choice. He provides offensively for the width and supplements defensively with his opponent in the chain of five. On the right the same task probably falls to Shabani, who, however, is missing ill at the start in Eichstätt.

The three offensive positions are clearly occupied by Evina, Wriedt and Jeong. Franck Evina is still missing due to injury, but should be available again after the trip to the USA. He will be represented by Alexander Nollenberger, who came from FV Illertissen in winter but was unable to convince under Tim Walter.

It was also interesting to see in the preparation that the amateurs still show elements from the time of Tim Walter. For example, one of the three defenders in the structure of the game could be found in midfield as a starting point. Time will tell whether this is consciously demanded by the coach or whether it is simply still in the player’s processes.

Outlook

“We want to become champions” says Holger Seitz openly and honestly. And the chances of this year are better than they have been for a long time. This time no relegated player has changed to the league who is aiming for immediate promotion with a lot of money (Regensburg, TSV 1860). And no team has decided to aim for promotion at considerable financial expense (Würzburger Kickers, Unterhaching). Although FC Schweinfurt 05 has visibly professionalised itself and upgraded its team in recent years, the quality of the Franconians cannot be compared with that of the aforementioned teams.

FC Bayern has also learned a little from last season, in which the amateurs were almost never able to train in full in July and August, because players had to be constantly seconded to the pros. In the last few days only U19 players have participated in Niko Kovac’s training, while the amateurs have prepared themselves as fully as possible for their game in view of the many injured.

After the season’s opening in Eichstätt, the team will play their second competitive game in Ingolstadt on Tuesday before the pros’ trip to the USA interrupts the season again. The games in question have all been or will all be published, and the next game will be the third game against Illertissen on August 5th. By the end of August, the team will have completed at least eight matchdays. A time, at which one can already estimate, in which direction the journey goes this year. Last year that was the time when, not least because of the chaotic training conditions, the decisive points were lost.

For the first time since the 2013/14 season, the Bayern amateurs are back in the season as top favourites. At that time the team of Erik ten Hag became champion, but missed the ascent at the very last minute by the famous mistake of Lukas Raeder. This should change in May 2019, but until then a lot of water will still flow along the Isar.

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