Bayern Munich II played their second consecutive newly promoted team to kick off the 3.Liga season over the weekend, and it didn’t go to plan. SC Verl put Bayern II to the sword with a big 3-0 victory to jump into third place in the league behind fellow newcomers Türkgücü München (on goal difference).
Holger Seitz had his hands tied in this one. Captain Nicolas Feldhahn was out injured while Malik Tillman, Chris Richards, Joshua Zirkzee and Jamal Musiala were all with the first team. Slotting in next to Bright Arrey-Mbi in central defense was fellow 17 year old Jamie Lawrence who was brought up from the U-19s. When both your starting centerbacks are age 17, it’s going to be an interesting match in any professional league.
Well, it didn’t work, and Bayern lost.
Bayern XI: Hoffmann - Waidner, Lawrence, Arrey-Mbi, Lungwitz - Stiller, Welzmüller, Zaiser (46. Rochelt), Kern (46. Kühn) - Dajaku, Arp
Let’s talk about it.
What’s going on with Bayern II?
Transfers and Loans Out
The team that won the league last season is not the team that came into this season. Christian Früchtl, Lukas Mai, Sarpreet Singh, and Oliver Batista Meier left the club on loan this summer, while Otschi Wriedt and Derrick Köhn left to join Willem II on permanent (and free) transfers. Oh yeah, Woo-yeong Jeong returned to Freiburg (where he’s played in their first two Bundesliga matches). Then, on Tuesday, it was announced that Mert Yilmaz was leaving Bayern II for Antalyaspor in Turkey’s first division.
Now, due to some inaction in the transfer market from the first team, many of the players that you’d expect to be playing with Bayern II are filling up the bench at the Allianz Arena. Instead of getting significant minutes on the field in the 3.Liga, players like Malik Tillman, Chris Richards, and Jamal Musiala are being forced into reserve roles with the first team.
The expectation, I’m sure, is that when the transfer window closes on October 5, the first team will be settled which will allow Bayern II to settle. But, if no more players are brought in to support Hansi Flick, will Bayern II be without two to three players that they were counting on this year?
Promotions from the U-19s
When the various professional leagues across Europe began playing matches against after the COVID-19 break, Germany decided that the countries U-19 and U-17 leagues would not return to the field until the fall. This gave Sebastian Hoeneß the opportunity to bring a few of those U-19 players into the Bayern II squad like Musiala, Tillman, and Dennis Waidner, among others. This would allow them some prep work ahead of the 2020/21 season when most Bayern fans expected to lose some of the top youth players to loans.
Many Bayern fans had the assumption that Musiala and Tillman would spend the year with Bayern II in the 3.Liga in order to gain experience for a season against full professionals; however, since the start of the 2020/21 Bundesliga season, Flick has relied on the two youngsters to fill out the bench. Instead of getting starts, the kids are getting spot minutes (and, mostly Musiala at that) against Bundesliga clubs. Is this better or worse for their development? Only time will tell.
In addition to Mai and Richards, the next centerback prospects for Bayern are Arrey-Mbi and Lawrence. It was expected that the two big 17 year olds would be thrown into the fire sooner rather than later, but few people saw Bayern II being forced into start two kids promoted from the U-19s at centerback in Matchday 2.
Remember these are kids
Things aren’t always going to go as smoothly as they did for Bayern II at the end of last season. After a first half of the season that was a struggle, Bayern II exploded in the second half of the season. The elite talent in the team gelled perfectly at the right time, and they won the league. It really is hard to see a repeat of that happening this season.
But, that’s okay. The purpose of Bayern II is not to win championships. Those are just a positive by-product of the number one goal: Develop first team quality players.
Kids, however, are kids. It can be tough when you’re trying to get a starting lineup with the average age of 20 to gel together in the first game of the season (And, that average age would’ve been even lower had 34 year old Feldhahn not started!) Mistakes will be made, and they have to be allowed to make them. At the end of the season, the goal remains the same as it was at the beginning of last season: survive in the 3.Liga and avoid relegation.