Last year, I didn't really do much as far as following FC Bayern II, the club's reserve side. This was mostly for three reasons:
(1) Most coverage of Bayern II is in German, and my German is a little spotty;
(2) I was busy dealing with trolls and complainers on the old site, and then getting this new site up and running, and by the time we got rolling here, it was already crunch time for Bayern I; and
(3) I wasn't really sure how much interest there was in Bayern II coverage.
Well, as far as the last reason, that still might apply. So if Bayern II talk bores you, check back in tomorrow. But my German is slowly improving, and we have a bit more time on our hands. So let's see what we can learn about the reserve side:
We can start with today. Bayern II fought to a 1-1 draw vs. English side Swindon Town in a friendly. Swindon Town are playing in League One this year, so presumably they're a level above Bayern II (who are playing in the Regionalliga). Of course, Bayern II would have a claim to be a cut above your typical Regionalliga side, with several players who harbor legitimate hopes of playing on a Champions League side someday. Anyway, it appeared to be a pretty even affair, with STFC going ahead early, Bayern II levelling, and both sides having chances to win it. I can't find any highlights, but this site appears to have a pretty good description. Interestingly, former Lazio striker and Nazi-saluter Paolo Di Canio is managing STFC, and apparently they love him.
Here are some guys on Bayern II who are somewhat familiar to me, as a half-bright, poorly-informed American Bayern fan:
- Dale Jennings
I smell the blood of an English-man! Our Anglo-prodigy has a pretty good pedigree: he was voted the League One Apprentice of the Year 16 months ago, and allegedly attracted some interest from Premier League sides before he was shipped off to Bayern II. He then promptly blew out his ankle and had to miss most of last season.
These young kids heal quick, though, and Dale is still only 19. He's small, but has good touch and sees the field well. He's still a long bit away from seeing first team action, but if he stays healthy and keeps improving, he could be an option someday.
- Toni Vastic
Another guy with pedigree - Toni is the son of Ivica Vastic, the Croatian-born striker who starred for several Austrian teams. Toni is also 19, and played for Blackburn's reserve side before coming to Germany. He's probably a long way away from helping the senior side, and might have to be loaned out for a while. Although, a few foreign clubs may be interested, with Fulham at the top of the list.
It would be great if we could loan him out and get him some experience elsewhere and still keep the rights to him; but if a Premier League team wants to pay Premier League money and actually give him playing time, I wouldn't be surprised if we let him leave.
- Tobias Schweinsteiger
Bastian's brother is the elder statesman of the reserve squad. At this point in his career, he's not likely to earn any kind of promotion to Bayern I. Interestingly, though, it's still important to have some skill and muscle on Bayern II - if the reserve side can get promoted back to the 3. Liga, it would help everyone develop and get regular playing time against a better level of competition. If there's any chance of that happening, Tobias is going to have to play a leadership role.
- Maxi Riedmüller
I thought the back-up 'keeper was younger than he was - he's 24, and doesn't have any first-time experience of note. With Starke on board as the back-up, I don't see much likelihood that Riedmüller plays a useful role for the senior squad anytime soon. Again, though, if he can help Bayern II climb back into the 3. Liga, he's still performed a useful service. Supposedly he had a few good saves today. I wouldn't be totally shocked if another Bundesliga side made us an offer for him by next summer.
- Altin Lala
I don't know why this guy, who played almost 300 games for H96 and over 70 for the Albanian national team, wants to close out his career toiling away at Bayern II. But I still he think he's got something left in the tank. He's getting up there in age (he'll turn 37 this year), but he knows the game and he's got a lot of heart. And, again, the younger guys can learn a lot from someone who's played matches at the highest levels.
- Mitchell Weiser
We bought this guy from Koeln just a few weeks ago. He just turned 18, but scouts like his skill on the ball and his motor. If Koeln hadn't been relegated, they never would have sold him. I don't know much about Weiser, but I know enough to keep an eye on him.
There are a few other interesting guys, but we're approaching the point where I'm just parroting information from around the web on guys I have hardly ever seen play. So, I'll turn it over to y'all - who do you think are the important players on Bayern II? Do you think we have a legitimate shot at bouncing back up to the 3. Liga? And who might we be watching at the Allianz 5 or 6 years from now?