As the first team continues to succeed at the highest level, Bayern Munich II continues to find a way back to the 3. Liga, the highest level they can achieve. Their quest is due to begin on Wednesday when they take on Regionalliga Bayern rivals FV Illertissen.
The reserves will kick off the season with a new head coach, former U19 coach Heiko Vogel relieving Erik ten Haag. Though losing Michael Eberwein and Marco Hingerl, Vogel takes with him several other U19 players: Fabian Benko, Niklas Dorsch, Gianluca Gaudino, Yannik Günzel, Daniel Hägler, Sinan Kurt, Milos Pantović, Lukas Scholl, and Philipp Walter. Add outsiders Korbinian Burger, Karl-Heinz Lappe, and Leo Weinkauf, and Bayern have one of the deeper teams they have had in years.
The Würzburger Kickers are no longer a rival the side needs to worry about, for they gained full promotion after winning the Regionalliga Bayern last season. There are greater foes now, for Jahn Regensburg and SpVgg Unterhaching, two of the three teams relegated in the 3. Liga last season will set up shop in the Regionalliga Bayern. Jahn Regensburg already is off to a hot start, winning each of their first three matches.
Although promotion would be nice, the reserve team is much more about results. Several of the players are not only trying to convince Bayern to give them a professional contract, but other teams as well. Here is a look into the players in the 2015/16 team, as well as how the team is set up this season.
A Peak at the Players
Important New Faces
Vogel's appointment meant the progression of a lot of players under his tutelage. The two big ones are Gaudino and Kurt, two players already on professional contracts trying to get their careers started. Those two mean more to the first team though than they do to the reserves, and the club will likely send them back and fourth to fill out the team sheet. When those two are gone, who are the ones Vogel can rely upon?
Fabian Benko – He has already showed flashes of what he can do this preseason with a quick touch and a nice little burst of speed. However, he has a lot he still needs to learn, which might mean he spends most of the season on the bench as Kurt mans the flank. Bayern do have seem to regard him highly though, and he may be a player that could take the fourth division by storm.
Niklas Dorsch – Like Benko, Dorsch is making the jump from the U17 squad after getting a brief run-in with the U19's late in the season. Dorsch is also a big presence in the German national team youth ranks, although his U17 Euros were cut short with a calf problem. He may be stuck behind "more tenured" players, but he adds quality midfield depth the reserves did not have last season.
Karl-Heinz Lappe – Although coming to Bayern in a different nature, Lappe will become the Tobias Schweinsteiger of the group. He finally got his chance at Ingolstadt in the past two seasons, but the biggest chunk of his career was spent in the Regionalliga Bayern. Lappe will provide the veteran presence Schweinsteiger and Stefan Buck leave behind, and has the potential to stick around for a long time.
Due to the amateur nature of the team, the reserves see a lot of turnover year-to-year. Most of it is standard business procedure and does not impact the team, but occasionally the player loss can hurt.
Lukas Görtler (Kaiserslautern) – Coming over from Bamberg, Görtler was likely not a player Bayern had any long-term plans to develop. That said, the production last season he is taking with him to Kaiserslautern is nonetheless a loss. Though he may not have fit the system Vogel will implement, someone has to make up for the 11 goals he scored last season.
Edwin Schwarz (Viktoria Köln) – Having been with Bayern since he was a boy, Schwarz elected to take his talents to the Regionalliga Nord. His defensive prowess did not astound, but he was a centerpiece in defense for all of ten Hag's tenure. Vogel fortunately has a lot of defenders to work with, so having Schwarz leave will not affect the integrity of his defense too much.
Tobias Schweinsteiger (Retired) – The same summer his brother departs for Manchester United, Schweinsteiger elects to end his career with the reserves. His talents did not necessarily warrant extra consideration, but his presence on the pice was one the young group definitely needed. His presence may not be completely gone, for he is reportedly going to join the Bayern youth coaching ranks after acquiring his UEFA B coaching license.
Playing for a Bayern Contract
Outside of last season, Bayern has given a reserve player a professional contract for 16 straight seasons. Last year was an exception because Gianluca Gaudino, the only player to receive a professional contract, shuttled between the U19s and the first team. Who has a chance to pen their first Bayern contract?
Lukas Scholl – Getting a taste in the first team last summer, Scholl has fallen in the shadow of other young Bayern players progressing faster than he is. However, he could be the best playmaker Vogel has. If he secures a lion's share of the repetitions, he could do enough to make Bayern consider him as a long-term option.
Felix Pohl – Much like Scholl did last season, Pohl got the opportunity to make his mark this preseason, usually coming on in relief for Rafinha or Philipp Lahm. Pohl is following several fullbacks able to work themselves into the first-team picture – Vladimir Ranković, Ylli Sallahi, Benno Schmitz, and Mitchell Weiser. With Kodjovi Koussou gone, Pohl can make an immediate impact. Big enough, and he becomes the successor to Lahm and Rafinha.
Playing for a Contract Elsewhere
While the reserves try to develop as many first-team players as it can, Bayern's team is simply too competitive for more than a handful to break into the first team. That means players have to entertain other suitors up the German latter, but outside of 2013, several players are often left twiddling their thumbs.
Steeven Ribéry – Given a trial in the U19s, Franck's youngest brother made one of the bigger impacts in the reserve last season, even if the numbers did not necessarily show it. However, with Kurt and Benko entering the fold, he is going to have to work in order to keep his position. After all, other clubs are not going to be inclined to sign him if he is not playing.
Angelos Oikonomou – In his third season with the reserves, the Greek homegrown player is running out of time to prove he's worthy of a professional contract. Vogel will give him a solid chance, considering he's been one of Bayern II's better midfielders the past season and a half. Since several midfielders are making the jump to the reserves, he's going to have to find another place to work somehow.
Matthias Strohmaier – Coming in from the Augsburg reserves two seasons ago, Strohmaier is approaching the end of his deal. At the time, Bayern did not have much defensive talent coming through the youth ranks, but even then he did not get a major run in the reserves. Now 22, he will (and should) progress to a point someone can take a chance on him.
Garrett Wegkamp – Wegkamp was Bayern II's best goalscorer a year ago, and his form up top has continued in the preseason thus far. He has not proved to be much more than a poacher so far, and while it may not be a problem for the reserves, it may be a problem for him trying to make a career. Now with Karl-Heinz Lappe in the team, he may be competing for a spot, not good for a person who left Düsseldorf to break into the first team.
Patrick Weihrauch – He did not get another professional contract after an unproductive two years, and now the two-year amateur contract is due to run out. He went on a ten day trial with SV Sandhausen during the last Winterpause, and he is probably hoping someone else takes a chance on him.
Goalkeepers and Defenders
|Goalkeepers||Right Back||Center Back||Left Back|
|Leopold Zingerle||Yannick Günzel||Matthias Strohmaier||Philipp Steinhart|
|Ivan Lucic||Felix Pohl||Korbinian Burger||Patrick Puchegger|
|Andreas Rössl||Herbert Paul||Philipp Walter||Korbinian Burger|
|Leo Weinkauf||Patrick Puchegger||Giuseppe Leo||Felix Pohl|
|Riccardo Basta||Patrick Puchegger||Sebastian Bösel|
|Angelos Oikonomou||Yannick Günzel||Riccardo Basta|
|Philipp Steinhart||Angelos Oikonomou|
With outside additions and U19 promotions, the Bayern II defense has become deeper than it has been in years. The most common center back partnership this preseason has been Burger and Strohmaier, but academy products Guiseppe Leo and Philipp Walter are well in the mix.
Philipp Steinhart, the most senior of the defenders now, has the left flank locked down. The reserves have Austrian youth international Patrick Puchegger who has gotten an extended look under Vogel this preseason. Promoted defender Yannick Günzel received similar treatment on the right, but how Vogel will use him and Felix Pohl is not yet known.
Zingerle, in his third season with the reserves, will be the incumbent, and he may get a chance to take a bigger step now that Sven Ulreich is with the first team. Vogel will not dismiss Lucic either, the Austrian goalkeeper with just two years now to make an impact. Rössl is the depth piece, as is Weinkauf, at least for now.
Midfielders and Forwards
|Central Midfield||Right Midfield/Wing||Left Midfield/Wing||Striker|
|Gianluca Gaudino||Steeven Ribéry||Sinan Kurt||Gerrit Wegkamp|
|Riccardo Basta||Daniel Hägler||Milos Pantović||Karl-Heinz Lappe|
|Angelos Oikonomou||Sinan Kurt||Fabian Benko||Patrick Weihrauch|
|Sebastian Bösel||Patrick Weihrauch||Steeven Ribéry||Milos Pantović|
|Lukas Scholl||Milos Pantović||Patrick Weihrauch||Sinan Kurt|
|Fabian Benko||Herbert Paul||Karl-Heinz Lappe|
|Steeven Ribéry||Lucas Scholl||Philipp Steinhart|
|Niklas Dorsch||Karl-Heinz Lappe||Niklas Dorsch|
|Giuseppe Leo||Gianluca Gaudino|
Midfield is, as expected, the are of the park that is the most in flux. That is not just because of all the names Vogel added this season, but also because of the unset formations over the past two seasons. Vogel will have a lot to experiment with as he tries to get Bayern's top prospects the minutes they need to develop.
Gaudino of course is the sexy name in midfield, and he will likely pair with Basta, who has played the most in preseason thus far. Oikonomou and Basel are the other two defensive midfielders that will want to get time, but Vogel would not have brought Niklas Dorsch into the team if he did not have plans to play him. Vogel may be more inclined than his predecessor to use a third midfielder in order to mirror what the first team is doing, so Lukas Scholl see his name in the Starting XI several times this season.
Kurt is the notable name on the flank, but Vogel also has to respect last year's contributions from Weihrauch and Ribéry. Hägler was a preseason favorite, he and Pantović playing opposite each other on several occasions. Brought up as an attacking midfielder Benko has played on the flanks as well, and Bayern must have plans with him as a winger if he was playing there with the first team this preseason.
The striker picture is more cut and dry, Wegkamp the deserving incumbent. He may play most of the season alone up top this season, but Vogel can pair him with the veteran Lappe should he so choose.
Sinan Kurt – Gerrit Wegkamp – Steeven Ribéry
Sebastian Bösel – Angelos Oikonomou – Gianluca Gaudino
Philipp Steinhart – Korbinian Burger – Matthias Strohmaier – Yannick Günzel