Beginning of the season for the academy sides
When the ball leapt from Benedict Hollerbach’s foot into the back of the net in added time on the 18th of June, FC Bayern sealed their first academy title in exactly ten years. Almost four weeks before, the under-19s had been beaten unfortunately on penalties in Dortmund, while the under-17s in their own final left no doubt as to who was the best German team in that age-group. They defeated Werder Bremen deservedly by two goals to nil.
At the turn of the month, the youth department moved into their new campus grounds in the north of the city, thus shedding their infrastructural disadvantages compared to their domestic and international competitors. Despite that, the new grounds, above all in the international realm, aren’t setting a new yard-stick. On the FC Bayern campus, there is no roofed pitch like in Salzburg or innovative training additions like in Hoffenheim (Footbonaut, Helix). The area originally planned as a club shop will now be used for a top-secret project called “FC Bayern Campus Lab”. What is actually behind all of that will be revealed in due time.
At the very end of last season, it was announced that in Adrian Fein and Timothy Tillman two of the under-19s’ key players, who could well have played for another season in the A-youth team, will move up to the reserves. An understandable decision from which both players will benefit in their development. Slightly more notable were the decisions finally made this week. Franck Evina, who performed superbly in the regional league crunch match against Schweinfurt, will play in the under-19s this season. Directly against the explicit desire of the reserves’ coaching team, who were eager to have Evina as well as Wintzheimer – who, likewise, is going back to the under-19s – in their squad as regular players.
This doesn’t just mean that the success of the under-19s appears more important to the sporting leadership team than that of the reserves. It also seems that cropping the under-19s is more important than the individual advancement of the players. Both Wintzheimer and Evina have proved that they can more than hold their own in the men’s game. And there’s great hope that in Evina Bayern can finally integrate another of their own youth players into their squad for the long-term. In his time as reserve coach, Hermann Gerland was a big proponent of promoting top talents as early as possible. Both Evina and Wintzheimer have shown that they’re ready for the challenge, and yet have to play out another year of youth football.
As a further consequence, Oliver Batista Meier moves back into the under-17s. The attacker, who joined from Kaiserslauten in 2016, will thus play his third under-17 season already. In the final part of the season a few weeks ago, he was probably the outstanding player in the team, and now he’ll play another season in the B-youth team with even younger opponents. Presumably he’ll dominate that even more easily, instead of having to stake a claim in the under-19 against older players.