In the big little final, the future stars of the Bundesliga faced off against Dortmund yesterday for the U17 championship. In this breakdown, we recap the action of the first and second halves, summarize Bayern’s performance in general, and conclude with notes on several players who stood out for the U17 team.
The line ups:
Mayer - Kehl, Cavadias, Brugger, Johansson - Stiller, Tillman - Batista Meier, Herrmann, Hollerbach - Zirkzee
Schoennenbeck - Goeckan, Luebke, Ferjani, Terzi - Schluesselburg, Hetemi - Wengerowski, Pherai, Bakir - Moukoko
The Game - 1st Half
Bayern had control from the get go and dominated the game. Everything in the first 10 minutes was happening in Dortmund’s half. The biggest chance, however, came for Dortmund from a free kick.
During this early phase, and throughout most of the game, Bayern’s left side, composed of Jonas Kehl (LB) and Oliver Batista Meier (LW), was where the action was. Bayern’s right side, featuring Johansson (RB) and Hollerbach (RW), was not as explosive. More impulse forward came from the right-back Hollerbach, who could end up playing for one of three national teams: Sweden, England or Luxemburg.
Joshua Zirkzee (ST) and Jahn Herrmann (OM) also had a a big impact. Zirkzee often dropped deep while Herrmann stayed involved with little actions all over the pitch. At one point, Zirkzee received the ball as deep as the RB position. Herrmann seemed to be the player who ran the most on either team. Unfortunately that didn’t help, as Dortmund also had the second biggest chance in the 15th minute with the ball played in just in front of Moukoko who was ready for a tap in.
Following that, Bayern’s biggest chance came — surprisingly — over the right side. Hollerbach, however, was not helped by the inside post, and the ball bounced back out. Just minutes later in the 22nd, Dortmund broke fast and into the box over their right side through Pherai. Bayern’s CB Cavadias didn’t attack the ball and GK Mayer left the inside post open for what looked like too easy a strike. 1:0 Dortmund.
5 minutes later in the 27th it was Bayern’s turn. Batista Meier dribbled down the left wing and into the box passing to Herrmann. Herrmann was taken out as soon as he got the ball. The referee already had the whistle in his mouth to blow for a penalty, but the ball rolled on to Zirkzee who smashed it into the back of the net: 1:1.
Until half time — the U17s play 40 minute halves — the most notable situation was one of the many Bayern corners in the 32nd minute, which CB Brugger put on the crossbar.
The second half started furiously. The teams were barely on the pitch when Dortmund played the ball in high to the Bayern box 41st minute. Pherai headed it back out to Wengerowski on the right wing. He in turn played the ball back into the 5 yard area to Pherai who spun to backheel it past Mayer with his first touch: 2:1 Dortmund. Yet again, it was a shame that there was not enough pressure on Pherai, who was free to do what he wanted.
In the 46th minute, Dortmund defender Ferjani reached his arm out to block a shot, gifting Bayern with a penalty and earning a yellow for his troubles. Herrmann converted coolly for Bayern’s equalizer 2:2.
Most of the second half then was a back and forth without any massive chances, but it has to be noted that the game was far more balanced than in the first half. The score was definitely justified the longer the game went on.
I was already settling in for extra time when 5 minutes from the end Dortmund got the ball out on the right. Dortmund’s 28 crossed the ball in. Although Mayer (GK) managed to get his hands on the shot by Pherai, the ball was deflected and landed in front of Moukoko. Rather than attack the ball, Cavadias stuck to the line, with no other Bayern defender close. Moukoko shot and while Mayer got a hand on the ball, it ended up deflecting the through the legs of Cavadias. 75th minute 3:2 Dortmund.
The 78th minute saw some big drama resulting in two red cards. After an aerial contest between Stiller (FCB), Oers (BVB) and Pherai (BVB), all three went down to the ground. Stiller and Oers had intertwined legs and Oers kicked out cursing at the Bayern player causing a big commotion in which Zirkzee was the first at the scene, pushing Oers and tapping another player on the cheek. Both he and Oers saw the red card.
Bayern now tried to throw more forward. Having already brought on Butler, they also brought another forward for the last few minutes in the half-American Jalen Hawkins, who has played two games for the US U18.
In stoppage time, the 83rd minute, Hawkins had a massive last-minute chance to equalise for Bayern. Unfortunately, he sent a diving header past an almost open goal. Shortly thereafter, the game was over.
Bayern’s youngsters dominated the first half but only came out of it with a 1:1. The second half was more balanced and resulted in a 2:1 for Dortmund. The simplest explanation is that Dortmund used their chances better.
The weakest point of the Bayern side was its CBs, who continually looked bad and received little support from the two players in front of them, Tillman and Stiller. While Stiller was able to make some good plays throughout the game, the other three were a big part of why Bayern lost this game.
Altogether though, it is well known that people learn more from defeats than from victories, so hopefully this defeat will make the U17s even hungrier next season, when almost all of them will move up to the U19 side. Tillman is one of the few players who will not, and CB Brugger will leave Bayern for Frankfurt this summer — but that is perhaps a good thing.
One thing that has to be said for Tillman is that he was the youngest Bayern player, but in my opinion this should not excuse the gulf in class between him and the others. I must admit I am also not a big fan of his brother Timothy Tillman, who plays for FCB II. Both of their attitude on the pitch reminds me a lot of Mesut Özil, and they do not really show a great work ethic.
Notes on the Bayern players
Once again, the Bayern players impressed me a lot. There was a lot of good, intelligent play, great combinations and generally a performance that made me think that a group of these players could make it onto the big stage. Here are some notes from today’s game:
Joshua Zirkzee — Last week I said that I would prefer to see him in midfield. That hasn’t changed. While Zirkzee has a great shot, I think this can also be a good quality for a top CM or CAM. He has a great radius of play, good feet, and can play a great pass. I think he is wasted as a striker, because then he really should be in the box more and not roaming so far, which is one of the most effective parts of his game.
Jahn Hermann — A tough CM who always seems to be running and getting involved, and he doesn’t complain when fouled. While Hermann is not as spectacular as Zirkzee, he has as wide of a play radius, and probably ran even more. His play reminds me a little bit of a more offensive Javi Martinez. It is well known that as players get older they tend to move backwards on the pitch, and the same could happen to him: seeing him settle into more of a 6 or deeper-lying 8. I think he would make a really balanced pairing with Zirkzee.
Oliver Batista Meier — The left winger was once again the focal point of the Bayern play. He was also directing a lot of play. Although he was always marked tightly, he seemed to be able to cope. Batista Meier is a very confident dribbler, but he lacks the elite speed that a lot of other top wingers have. He may need to move further inside as his career progresses. I also think that he needs to build greater strength, which is a bit worrying for those who see him moving into adult football soon. If you have neither the elite speed to run around people nor the strength to outmuscle them, life will become difficult. Batista Meier definitely needs to hone his dribbling and grow into his body a bit more. But he is only 17 and shouldn’t be overhyped so that he feels the need to go to too high a league too soon.
Jonas Kehl — A player I like more the more I watch him. Batista Meier’s partner in crime on the left wing, Kehl plays with a great low centre of gravity. He has good confidence going forward, good speed and oversight tracking back, and he did well in switching sides of the pitch with passing or in combination in tight situations. I think that he has the intelligence to become a young Lahm, and like Lahm he can play both sides of the defence. At the same time I do not want to put that label on him: he should develop to be his own player.
Ryan Johansson — Although he didn’t have as exciting a game as last week, he is a really solid player who always seems to give a good performance. He posed more of a threat going forward than the RW, tracked back to help when needed against Moukoko, and even drifted into the middle of the pitch to make plays there. I can see why he predominantly plays at CM, but he was also great at RB and could start his professional Bayern career there as a backup to Kimmich to get some time with the first team. Johansson definitely has a great future ahead of him.
Notes on the Dortmund players
I have to say that overall I was really disappointed in Dortmund’s performance. They played nowhere near at the level of the previous Leverkusen game.
Players like the captain Bakir or the 13-year-old wonder boy Moukoko were practically invisible for most of the game as they were left chasing the play.
Dortmund did, however, have one player who was involved in all of the action up front and who was more dangerous than the rest of the team combined : the Dutch no. 10 Pherai. He scored two of the goals himself and was the main reason for the third, which Moukoko only had to tap in.
As much as it pains me to say it, I would have to give Immanuel Pherai the Man of the Match.