Neither the lottery, nor the organizer of the schedule were kind to the Under-19s of the record champion. Both in the first round of the cup and on the first day of the Bundesliga, there will be an away game in Hoffenheim, the club that narrowly failed last season despite two victories in the direct duels in the table. The team from Hoffenheim entered the semi-finals of the German championship as South Champions, in which they fell to Schalke 04.
In general, the conclusion of the last under-19 season is a little ambivalent. The team reached the UEFA Youth League round of 16 for the first time and scored so many points in the league that it would have been enough for the championship in most years. On the other hand, however, the Hoeness team too often lacked the impression of a dominant Bayern team that feels most comfortable in possession of the ball. Very often, the games were dominated by a switching game completely geared towards centre forward Wintzheimer.
The Under-19 squad
The official team photo shows 26 players, with Ryan Johannson missing due to illness. It is also quite possible that two new players who are already training at the FC Bayern Campus will soon be joining the team. In addition, Sebastian Hoeneß will once again have access to Lukas Mai and Christian Früchtl in the Youth League, as well as up to three players from the 1999 age group. Possible candidates here include Adrian Fein and Meritan Shabani.
Michael Wagner starts the season as number 1 in the goal. He was between the sticks of the Under 17 champions in the second to last season. Jakob Mayer and Lukas Faster remain only the role as substitutes. There is much more movement in central defense. Lukas Mai moved up early to the reserves, junior national player Alex Nitzl moved to TSG Hoffenheim. Three of the four central defenders from the under-17 team left the club: Julian Höllen to Bochum, Yannick Brugger to Eintracht Frankfurt and Fabian Cavadias will play for SpVgg Unterhaching in the future.
FC Bayern therefore intensified its scouting activities in this position. With Gabriele Corbo’s photo from a test match, this search even reached the public for a short time. In the end, the club signed Ivan Mihaljevic from Unterhaching and Chris Richards, known from the first team’s preseason, on a six-month loan basis from FC Dallas. The supposedly greatest talent on this position in the Under 19 is actually Flavius Daniliuc, who has been suffering from muscular problems for months. Richards and captain Stanisic are expected to start the season.
The coach is also spoilt for choice on the outside positions. Alex Lungwitz and Louis Poznanski compete on the left, Thomas Rausch and Ryan Johansson on the right. And junior international Jonas Kehl could play on both sides. Five candidates for two positions that would probably start in any other club in the league. A prime example of the incredible quality of the squad. This is also continuing in central midfield.
Angelo Stiller should undoubtedly be a regular. Last year’s captain of the Under 17 captivates with his excellent passing and is a must-have in the build-up. The remaining two positions depend a little on the tactics. Sebastian Hoeneß enjoyed playing with three defensive players in the past season. In the last test match before the start of the season against Arsenal (1-1) he decided in favour of Marin Pudic and Daniel Jelisic, while Jahn Herrmann remained only the substitute bench. Marcel Zylla was spearheading the attack in this game, but his real position is a few yards behind as an attacking midfielder.
There remain three offensive positions for a total of eight players. Certainly the best candidates are Oliver Batista Meier, Joshua Zirkzee and Alex Timossi Andersson. But behind them are a whole bunch of other top-class players. Benedict Hollerbach (19 goals and 10 assists last season in the Under 17) can run on both wings as well as in the centre. The same goes for Justin Butler. The Under-17 champions Daniels Ontuzans and Can Karatas, who both missed large parts of the last Under-19 season, also want to be used. And Marvin Cuni, once in the 2001 Under-16s top scorer, must not be forgotten either.
The squad players Ronald Lombaya and Dennis Waidner, who are still with FC Bayern due to current contracts, but realistically have no chance of appearances, were not listed.
No other team of the record champion resembled FC Bayern as little as the under-19 in its style of play last season, not least because of the Leipzig past of coach Sebastian Hoeneß. In an interview on the club homepage he described his idea for the game as follows: “In possession of the ball, it’s about getting into positions quickly, playing with few contacts and determinedly forward. If we don’t have the ball, we want to get it back as soon as possible, i.e. disturb early and act aggressively”.
As the season progressed, this idea became more and more obvious to the team – with all its strengths and weaknesses. The Under-19s showed their best games against more offensively oriented opponents and scored numerous goals after a quick transition game. However, it had problems with opponents who were deep in their own penalty area. This can be seen in the home defeat against Greuther Fürth, who finished last in the standings, 3-0 at FC Augsburg and in the exit from the Youth League against Real Madrid. Against the Royals the Hoeneß team was one man up almost the complete second half after a sending-off. However, the chances of scoring were hardly worth mentioning and they even conceded the decisive losing goal.
Too often the positioning of the individual players to each other was not right, triangles in the game structure were only rarely recognizable. It will be an exciting question, to what extent the team under Sebastian Hoeneß can make progress here in the coming season.
Outlook & Forecast
The first match against the direct rival for the championship is a tough one and especially at the beginning of the season it is impossible to estimate the form of the teams. Nevertheless, the squad list above has already shown that FC Bayern not only has a championship calibre team in the first 11 positions, but that the players 12-22 also have a huge quality. All in all, this year’s Under-19 should have the strongest squad since the legendary generation around Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber. Only the next 10 years will show whether the quality is similarly good at the top. The quality in the width is undoubtable.
As usual, TSG Hoffenheim and VfB Stuttgart, who are traditionally the strongest competitors, will be again this season. Mainz 05 must also be given an outside chance. At the end of the day, however, FC Bayern is the clear favourite in the race for the South German championship. With the years 2000 and 2001, the two Under-17 teams that have been in the final of the German B-Junior Championship in the last two years come together. It would be a great disappointment if FC Bayern did not play for the title at the end of the season. The chances of winning the German A-Junior Championship for the first time since 2004 were not as good as in this season.