The last month can only really be described as an exodus, for many of the Bayern Munich II team that came within seconds of earning promotion, have left for far flung pastures, leaving the Bayern reserve team flush with new faces and new roles going into their fourth season in the Regionalliga Bayern.
Last season, the Bayern Munich reserves relied on a combination of Lukas Raeder, Leopold Zingerle and late in the season U19 breakthourgh Raif Husic. With Lukas Raeder departing for the greener pastures of the Iberian Peninsula and Raif Husic joining Werder Bremen, the starting goalkeeper position for the Bayern Munich reserves is the first immediate question staring Erik ten Hag in the face.
While journeyman Andreas Rossi is still in the fold for another season, he's nothing more then a veteran presence in training and in the locker room. The burden might fall squarely on the shoulders of Leopold Zingerle at least at first. Last season, the 20-year-old German made 10 appearances mostly in the early part of the year as he and Raeder traded blows. That he made no appearances after the winter-pausen should be head scratchier and potentailly a worrying sign.
However, Manuel Neuer's injury and Lukas Raeder's subsequent involvement with the Bayern Munich first team was a very real issue that caused Bayern Munich to promote Raif Husic from the U19 side early. From there it may simply have been an issue of consistency or riding the hot hand, so it's hard to ascertain just where in the spectrum Bayern Munich see Zingerle. I'd expect Zingerle to start the season while new arrival Ivan Lucic cuts his teeth on a higher level of performance then the Austrian 3rd division.
With Benno Schmitz departing for the immensely greener pastures of Red Bull Salzburg and Champions League football rightback was a position of immediate concern for the reserve side. As such they went out and brough in Herbert Paul, a 20-year-old from Greuther Futh II, capable of playing both fullback positions with demonstrated Regionalliga experience. Who backs him up is a matter of concern as the only individual on the team with any rightback experience is ex-1860 Munich II utility man Kodjovi Koussou who is capable of playing both wings in attack and defense.
While Bayern Munich lost their two best centerbacks in Daniel Wein and David Vrzgovic, they still retain the cool head of 33-year-old, a part time captain, Stefan Buck. Joining him in central defense are Edwin Schwarz, an academy product who made 23 appearances last season, and German U20 international Matthias Strohmaier who joined the club last January. Those two should be the starting tandem but mixing and matching with the vastly more experienced Stefan Buck for the first part of the season wouldn't be an unrealistic expectation given this is how Erik ten Hag started last season. Sitting behind those three are two U19 promotees in Giuseppe Leo and Patrick Puchegger who have mainly plied their trade at centerback, but also have demonstrated experience all along the backline.
Leftback is where things start to get really murky for Erik ten Hag. With Ylli Sallahi still under contract for one more season, and without a really nailed down position on the left wing, the leftback spot is where the biggest uncertainty is for the Bayern reserves. If he remains in the organization, Sallahi would probably spend a significant amount minutes at leftback or as the left midfielder. If Sallahi is not plying his trade with Bayern Munich II soon or transitions farther up the pitch, the man on the spot would be Philipp Steinhart: another addition from the 1860 Munich system. Steinhart mainly has experience at leftback but is also capable of playing centerback. Behind them is Kodjovi Koussou
Given the relative dearth of central attacking midfielders on this team, and the strength of their defensive midfielders, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bayern reserves start this season in a 4-2-3-1 system. While Rico Streider's continuation with the organization is a huge question mark given he's now 22-years-old, the reserves also brought in 20-year-old Sebatian Bösel from Bayern Hof. Those two along with former U19 player Angelos Oikonomou, who stole the rug out from under Streider down the stretch last season in the lone holding role in ten Hag's 4-1-4-1, leave the reserves poised with some serious talent in defensive midfield.
If Streider remains, expect those three to manage a time share in defensive midfield with the occasional appearance from Oikonomou's fellow U19 promotee Riccardo Basta. If Streider packs his bags for "grander" things, expect a Boesel/Oikonomou standard with Basta in the backup role and some sporadic appearances from a one of the centerbacks.
The left midfield position is again a source of continued murkiness given the presence of Ylli Sallahi. If he is here, expect him to be the primary option. Behind him expect to see a roving band of merry attackers mainly supported by Steven Ribery. I have a feeling Bastian Fischer may also see some time there given the depth elsewhere, but as he's played primary on the right side and as a withdrawn or lone forward rather then on the left side of midfield, if that prediction fails don't be surprised. Of course the prediction is predicated on an some alternate concerns as well.
The compounding concerns on the left side of midfield though are Julian Green and Patrick Weihrauch. While Green is the true standout talent, he has most likely completely outgrown the Regionalliga as a learning source. Weihrauch is currently out of contract but besides some cursory links with Vitesse Arnhem months ago is not with a new club. He could end up back with the Bayern Munich reserves if nothing pans out. If those two do end up in ten Hag's plan, let alone with the potential addition of Ylli Sallahi, expect the left side of midfield to end up being a train wreck in terms of talent and available playing time.
If there's one thing Bayern Munich forgot to add this season, it's reserve level central midfield talent. Which is hilarious given they were swimming in it last season and also at the senior level. Besides Nikola Jelisic, who made all of 4 appearances in the entirety of last year, the only player capable of playing in attacking midfield is Tobias Schweinstgier who has spent more time as a withdrawn forward then as anything approaching an attacking midfield talent. Behind them the lone player with experience is 18-year-old Lennart Ingmann, an academy product with only U19 experience. For that reason alone, we may see some of that high quality left midfield talent makes it's way into the center. Ylli Sallahi has shown a propensity of playing more in the middle while Julian Green could fill in as a false 10 in a system designed around defensive midfielders with advanced distribution skills. While the later idea is definitely pie in the sky, it would be a fascinating tactical approach to a new season and one that could reap huge dividends in expanding some of these promising youngsters spatial problem solving skills. It could also backfire horribly in an explosion rivaling Pompeii though, so lets just chalk it up to mad dreams and move on.
The right side of attacking midfield is Lukas Görtler's. The 20-year-old recently joined from Eintracht Bamberg where he scored 8 goals and tacked on 6 assists in 31 appearances. Behind Görtler is a vast array of talent including Bastian Fischer and Alexander Sieghart among several others.
Striker; the last position of the Bayern Munich reserve side is the home to highly talented Gerrit Wegkamp. A top prospect for Fortuna Dusseldorf, the 21-year-old spent last season shuttling between the reserves and the senior sides before a half eason loan to 3.Liga side MSV Duisburg. While his raw goal scoring numbers are hardly impressive, 1 goal and 3 assists for the Dusseldorf II side, he tallied those numbers in just 326 minutes before the shuttling and subsequent loan to a team that scored the 2nd fewest goals in the 3.Liga. Lined up behind Wegkamp on the depth chart are Lukas Görtler, Tobias Schweinsteiger, and Bastian Fischer.
Naturally just like the last two years Bayern Munich's aim is promotion back to the 3.Liga, now after what will be a four year absence. They kick off their season this Friday when they take on Kickers Würzburg at 19:00 CET at the Grünwald Stadion. How quickly they can come together behind Erik ten Hag's vision will come to define their season in the Regionalliga and what our realistic expectations of them should be.