After dispatching their Bundesliga competition with relative ease in the Telekom Cup, FC Bayern Munich boarded a charter plane on Sunday night headed for Shanghai, to start their 12-day Audi Summer Tour, landing on Monday afternoon local time in China’s largest city.
While some notable names like Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Arjen Robben were left behind in Munich to work on their fitness, the team still packed some serious star power, and drew well over 1000 fans at the airport. Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez, Mats Hummels and, of course, Thomas Müller, patiently signed autographs and posed for selfies before heading on to the team hotel.
Along with the established first teamers, coach Carlo Ancelotti filled out his traveling roster with some promising youngsters from the reserve and U19 teams. Niklas Dorsch (19 years old), Marco Friedl (19), Christian Früchtl (17), Felix Götze (19), Ron-Thorben Hoffmann (18) and Manuel Wintzheimer (18) all made the cut, and will get to train under Ancelotti and new co-trainer Willy Sagnol, and play alongside the professionals.
Notable absence among the youngsters? Franck Evina, the barely 17-year old striker who many already envision as the backup to Robert Lewandowski. As impressive as he has been in the championship U17 season this year — scoring 25 goals and totaling 12 assists — and holding his own in the preseason friendlies with the senior team, he is slated for U19 duties in the upcoming season.
The team will have to deal with a very taxing schedule. Along with more than a dozen training sessions — starting with two on Tuesday — and four games against major Italian and English teams, in the sweltering heat of the Asian summer, the players will also have to deal with countless promotional events, all in the name of growing the brand, both of FC Bayern and the Bundesliga.
Audi Summer Tour 2017 Schedule
|19-Jul||7:20 AM||FC Arsenal||Shanghai||ESPN Deportes||ESPN3/WatchESPN|
|22-Jul||5:35 AM||AC Milan||Shenzhen||ESPN2/ESPN Deportes||ESPN3/WatchESPN|
|25-Jul||7:35 AM||Chelsea FC||Singapore||ESPN Deportes||ESPN3/WatchESPN|
|27-Jul||7:35 AM||Inter Milan||Singapore||ESPN Deportes||ESPN3/WatchESPN|
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Audi Summer Tour 2017 Roster
Alaba, Bernat, Coman, Dorsch, Friedl, Früchtl, Götze, Hoffmann, Hummels, James, Lewandowski, Martínez, Müller, Pantovic, Rafinha, Ribéry, Sanches, Starke, Thiago, Tolisso, Ulreich, Wintzheimer
When Bayern return to Germany, they will have another three weeks of “regular” preparation before the season begins. At that time, Carlo Ancelotti expects the Confederations Cup participants Arturo Vidal, Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Süle, and Sebastian Rudy, who are still on vacation, to join the team, along with Neuer, Boateng and Robben.
Will this promotional boondoggle negatively affect the upcoming season? That’s a distinct possibility on the field, but in terms of popularity and increased revenue from the enormous Asian market, the effects are sure to be only positive.