Under-19s want to build on success
Ron-Thorben Hoffmann should be between the sticks ahead of under-17 champions Michael Wagner and Maurice König. In front of him in the back four, Thomas Rausch, Lukas Mai and Alex Nitzl probably have their places nailed down. Since neither left back (Alex Lungwitz and Jonathan Meier) will be fit enough for the start of the season, Nitzl should start on the left side of defence, while Theo Rieg and Josip Stanisic will battle over the remaining spot in central defence. Because Alex Lungwitz is close to his comeback, however, the proven back four of last year’s under-17s should be back together on the pitch soon.
It was clear to see in pre-season that the coach’s system tends towards a 4-1-4-1. Because of the injuries to Daniel Jelisic, Meritan Shabani and Marcel Zylla during preparation, it’s difficult to predict what the coach’s preferred line-up will be. Evina and Wintzheimer should be set in stone; Meritan Shabani should play too, as soon as he recovers from his hip operation. Can Karatas was impressive in pre-season, which Daniels Ontuzans missed completely due to ongoing muscular complaints. Big opportunities are also available for Marcel Zylla, who was fully involved again at the Ruhrcup after his own injury problems. The defensive position will be contested by Marin Pudic, Tobias Heiland and Daniel Jelisic. Maximilian Zaiser can operate offensively or defensively, having played absolutely no role last season as he too was plagued by injury. The biggest losers in the decision about Evina and Wintzheimer may well be Mathis Lange, Philipp Hermann, Maximilian Franzke and Rainer D’Almeida, who will all probably see less game time as a result.
Under-19s: pre-season and outlook
Sebastian Hoeneß’s team started the new season with a goal-friendly 4-3 against league competitors Unterhaching, before a somewhat unlucky defeat (0-1) to Arsenal. Slavia Prague were beaten 3-0, before the team couldn’t do better than a 1-1 against Sparta Prague. The performance in the Ruhrcup was truly impressive, and at that without Mai, Lungwitz, Shabani, Evina and Wintzheimer. In the preliminary rounds, the team were the only side to beat the eventual winners Real Madrid (1-0) and AS Monaco (3-0). After a defeat against Rapid Vienna (0-1), a 1-1 in the final group game against Schalke 04 wasn’t quite enough. Level on points with group winners Real Madrid, with just one goal the decisive factor on goal difference, the Rekordmeister’s under-19s were knocked out extremely unluckily in third place.
Despite missing a number of players, the team have shown that they’re fully competitive. And that’s also the clear expectation of the team: winning the south division and getting into the semi-final of the German championship. VfB Stuttgart and TSG Hoffenheim are traditionally among the main competitors. And yet the squad is so deep that even high-quality absences can be dealt with very well. The early fixtures should help towards that goal, with nine points expected from three games in the first week. First up the team visit SC Freiburg, who at the end of the day are more likely to battle relegation and shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge to Bayern.