5 Youngsters Set to Step Up at Bayern Munich in 2014
On Saturday, Bayern Munich will continue their overbearing battle for this season's Bundesliga title against German minnows Freiburg. The football on show will be of the highest magnitude as Christian Streich's small club do their best to compete with the might of their Bavarian foe in just one of the many spectacles that the Bundesliga will show that day.
Yet among the modern entertainment that is football, there will be some tradition and heart-felt sincerity to the game. Among the two sides on show that day, there will be a number of German players who started at each club and have developed into professional players at the teams they now battle so hard for.
For Bayern these players are all too obvious to most fans. The might of Bastian Schweinsteiger, the passion of Thomas Muller and even the savvy intelligence of Philipp Lahm—these players are all Bayern born and bred and play with plenty of honour for their club.
Yet these players aren't all the Munich side have to offer. Behind the surface of this great club, there are younger, hungrier players just waiting for their chance to shine.
Here are the top five who could break through and step up to the Bayern first team in 2014.
Julian Green kicks things off for us with a bang as one of Bayern's most promising young players to play for the reserve side, Bayern II, at the moment.
Plenty of column inches and Twitter debates have been allocated to this young man considering his dual nationality to the United States and the simple prospect of a future Bavarian star playing for the red, white and blue.
Although, don't let that deter you from Green's natural and abundant talent.
The forward usually plays on the left-hand side of a front three for the reserve side, where he has scored an impressive 15 goals and created six assists in just 18 games. Add to that a few bright performances for the first team while on their Asian tour this season and you have a player who is just desperate to try his luck in Pep Guardiola's first team.
Maybe 2014 will be his year.
Mitchell Weiser is next on our list as a 19-year-old winger who has been lighting up the second team in Munich for quite a while.
Fans will, of course, remember young Weiser from Bayern's Asian tour over the winter break, where he played in a number of first-team games all over the pitch.
He is usually considered as a winger for Bayern II, where he has three goals and seven assists in 19 games this season, yet Guardiola opted to try him out at full-back and even as part of a back three. Such is the flexibility of the young man's talents.
Quick, strong and full of all sorts of tricks, Weiser is a real handful for opponents whether it comes from the direct role of winger or even from deep if he were to play as a full-back.
Bayern may be all set for the next decade when it comes to left-backs, but young 19-year-old Ylli Sallahi of the Bayern reserve side is one player who may well see himself become more than just an understudy to the excellent David Alaba.
The Austrian has been ever-present in Bayern II's impressive run this season and will undoubtedly be on Guardiola's mind each time he looks across his defensive reserves and notes just Diego Contento, a player rarely used by the first team, as the only other alternative to Alaba.
Sallahi is a young talent who may never knock Alaba from his first-team spot, but one that should make a good back-up when his time comes.
The name Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will, of course, be all but too familiar with a number of Bayern fans considering his limited time in the first team this season. Yet such a move from reserves to Guardiola's own team hasn't come without merit.
At just 18 years old, Hojbjerg plays football with an uncanny level of expertise and will undoubtedly remind some around the club of a young Philipp Lahm through the manner in which he uses his brain more than any other muscle in the body.
As a central midfielder, his time may have to wait as the likes of Schweinsteiger, Thiago Alcantara and Toni Kroos continue to exert themselves in the first team, but as the season draws out don't be surprised to see this young star more and more as tired legs begin to falter.
With the likes of Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze in the blistering form that they currently showcase on a weekly basis, it would seem unlikely to imagine any scenario whereby Guardiola would feel obliged to bring through attacking midfielders from the second team.
Yet one player who looks as though he's perfectly happy to force his way in to the first team is 19-year-old central attacking midfielder Alessandro Schopf.
The Austrian midfielder started off life at Bayern as a dynamic winger, yet this season he has moved in to a more central role where he has thrived with eight goals and four assists in 27 games for Bayern II. One of the reserve side's greatest talents and a player with first-team ambitions on his mind.