The 2022/23 3. Liga season starts on Friday 22 with a 6pm kick-off between Osnabrück and Duisburg. ‘Die Amas’, as Borussia Dortmund’s second team are known by will kick off their season with a match at Wehen Wiesbaden on Monday 25.
In the 21/22 season, Dortmund’s U23s overperformed and had to manage not only having to cede key players to the first team due to injuries, players like defenders Lennard Maloney, Tom Rothe and Antonios Papadopoulos but also striker Steffen Tigges. Also an injury burden which included goalkeeper Luca Unbehaun, winger Marco Pašalić and midfielder Immanuel Pherai.
For the coming season, the club have to compensate for the departure of coach Enrico Maaßen who has left for the position of head coach at Augsburg with sporting director Ingo Preuß opting for 38-year-old Christian Preußer.
As the old adage goes, the second season after a promotion is always the hardest and the Berlin-born coach will need all the experience he gained with Fortuna Düsseldorf in the 2. Bundesliga last season to get the best out of a team with wide-ranging changes across multiple positions.
The primary weakness in the past season was scoring. BVB’s U23 side scored only 51 goals in the past season. The side has lost its top strikers who scored 16 goals between them. Berkan Taz has left for Waldhof Mannheim and Richmond Tachie has departed for what looks like an excellent opportunity with second-tier Paderborn.
BVB II’s forward line has been strengthened with the Nigerian-German striker Justin Njinmah, who joined midseason from Werder Bremen II and has started to make an impact, scoring four goals in the last 16 games of the season.
A further centre-forward comes in the form of Michael Eberwein who returns to the Stadion Rote Erde where he played in season 18/19 from 3. Liga Hallescher FC, where he scored 13 goals in the past season.
Switzerland-U20 striker Bradley Fink scored 13 goals in 14 matches for BVB U19 in the 21/22 season earning himself 10 appearances for BVB II in which he scored two goals for the U23s. Despite the exceptional talent he has shown he remains an unproven force at a third-tier level.
Goalkeepers and defence
A further area of concern in the past season is the defence. Dortmund II conceded 48 goals in the past season so that has been an important focus for recruitment this transfer window.
On the goalkeeping front, Stefan Drljaca has departed for Dynamo Dresden. He appears to have been very effectively replaced with the arrival of Hertha Berlin’s Poland U21 international Marcel Lotka.
Lotka showed great promise in the latter part of the season with Hertha’s first team. A further addition is 22-year-old Niklas Lübcke from ETB Schwarz-Weiss Essen. The first-choice keeper is likely to continue to be Germany U-20 keeper Luca Unbehaun who has recovered from a hand injury which kept him out for three months last season.
A further loss in defence is talismanic US U20 defender Lennard Maloney who will have regarded the opportunity with 2. Bundesliga title contenders 1. FC Heidenheim as too good to turn down. Togolese right-back Haymenn Bah-Traore has also left and is without a contract at the time of writing.
The defence has been reinforced with experienced centre-back Bjarne Pudel, who accumulated 70 appearances in the past two seasons with Regionalliga-West side SC Wiedenbrück.
Promising and versatile defender Mario Suver, who can also play in defensive midfield, is one of two additions who will be earmarked for the first team. The former Croatian U17 international attracted a €200,000 fee having gained 13 appearances in the 2. Bundesliga with 1. FC Nürnberg.
BVB II have a transfer deficit of €0.5m this summer with the bulk of the expenditure going on Netherlands U18 left-back Prince Aning. Following protracted negotiations over several months, BVB secured the Dutch U18 defender from Ajax. Aning for sure is a player to look forward to, the 18-year-old has looked exceptionally promising in the summer friendlies with the first team so far.
In addition, the back line will benefit from 20-year-old Dutch right-back Valentino Vermeulen who joins from FC Eindhoven where he accumulated 36 matches for the Dutch second-tier side last season.
In Midfield, France U18 international defensive-midfielder Kamal Bafounta, who had been with BVB since 2019, has departed and has yet to sign with a new club.
The additions are 21-year-old Falko Michel has been added from VfB Stuttgart II. Michel (21), who can also play at centre-back brings experience gained from 58 appearances in the Regionalliga-Südwest. Defensive-midfielder Can Özcan also joins from fourth-tier Regionalliga-West side Fortuna Düsseldorf II.
On the left-wing, a talent to watch is new winger Jayden Braaf who joined from Manchester City U23s providing he stays free of injury. The Dutch U18 international missed the whole of the 21-22 season due to a knee injury.
Central midfielder Aday Ercan who was on loan during the past season at SV Rödinghausen has been recalled
New coach Christian Preußer and his expected tactics
In terms of what can be expected from new coach Christian Preußer, his preferred tactical formations with Fortuna Düsseldorf were 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 whilst his stay with the 2. Bundesliga club was cut short in the past season with the coach departing in the winter break.
Preußer has a reputation for attacking possession-based football and had an impressive win rate of 56% with his former club SC Freiburg II, which he led to the Regionalliga-Südwest title in his first season in 2016/17.
Maaßen’s departure for Augsburg seemed to have caught BVB somewhat by surprise and the hiring of Preußer was a last-minute hire with the Berlin-born coach arriving two days after summer training had already commenced.
The 38-year-old, however, brings a good reputation for developing talent which similar to his former club Freiburg has an almost obsessive focus on youth development.
Overall, there is likely to be less pressure on BVB II from the first team. New head coach Edin Terzic and sporting director Sebastian Kehl have made some very strong transfers this summer and the first team is for the first time in quite some years is starting to look like having sufficient cover across all positions for squad rotation, which is crucial to any team looking to challenge for the Bundesliga title and playing at the highest level in European competition.
However, BVB U23s had a very tough first season in the 3. Liga, the highest that a second-string side can participate at in Germany, and can count themselves fortunate to have finished in ninth place. The side has strengthened crucially in defence with Aning and Suver but may still be light in attack despite Fink and Braaf joining.
The 3. Liga is amongst Europe’s most competitive leagues and this season will be no less so with the addition of the ambitious Dynamo Dresden and RW Essen, who like MSV Duisburg and title contender Osnabrück, can count on massive followings. Likewise, expect Ingolstadt and 1860 Munich to be amongst the top teams in the league. In terms of relegation Hallescher FC, Bayreuth, Elversberg, Oldenburg and SC Verl will likely struggle – overall BVB II would do well to match their 9th place finish in the coming season.
3. Liga Fixtures – Week 1
Osnabrück vs Duisburg
RW Essen vs Elversberg
Saarbrücken vs Verl
Ingolstadt vs Bayreuth
Oldenburg vs Meppen
Dynamo Dresden vs 1860 Munich
Waldhof Mannheim vs Viktoria Köln
Freiburg II vs Aue
Zwickau vs Hallescher FC
Wehen Wiesbaden vs Borussia Dortmund II