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bundesliga

Malik vs Timothy Tillman: a fraternal US tussle

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The Matchday 23 meeting between Bayern Munich and Greuther Fürth is also an inter-family affair for the Tillman brothers, with Malik and Timothy set to meet in Munich.

Nineteen-year-old Malik has patiently risen through the ranks in Bavaria, plundering 13 goals for Bayern's U19s before the coronavirus-enforced break in play in 2020, making him the Under 19 Bundesliga top scorer at the time. Throw in his seven assists and Tillman had a hand in a goal every 70 minutes he played at that level.

That earned him a place in Bayern's reserves, and the then-18-year-old Tillman was unfazed, finishing the season with five goals in eight games as the second-string climbed from eighth to first in the Rückrunde.

It was form that did not go unnoticed by Hansi Flick, who promoted the attacking all-rounder to his first-team squad for the UEFA Champions League final eight tournament in Lisbon, en route to wrapping up a first continental treble since 2013.

Malik Tillman has patiently risen the ranks to join the Bayern Munich first team this season. - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

There has been no looking back since and Tillman made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 16 of 2021/22, coming off the bench in a 5-0 win over VfB Stuttgart. He followed that with his first start, in the 2-1 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach at the beginning of 2022, and he has been part of all of Julian Nagelsmann's matchday squads this season, when fit.

Malik's elder brother Timothy, meanwhile, has featured regularly in midfield for promoted Fürth this season, having also spent time with Germany's record champions. In fact, he joined Bayern from Fürth alongside Malik in 2015 and worked his way up through the U17s and U19s before becoming a regular for the reserves, racking up six goals and seven assists in 31 Regionalliga outings.

That earned him a shot at regular first-team football during a season-long loan at hometown club Nuremberg, with whom the 5'9" winger made his Bundesliga debut in 2019.

After returning to Bayern in the summer, he duly moved back to Fürth, where he penned a full-time contract and helped Die Kleeblätter back into the big time last term, gradually seeing more and more action.

The increase in game time has continued into his first full campaign in the Bundesliga, and he's played a part in every game for the Fürth since Matchday 6 – the reverse fixture with Bayern – opening his Bundesliga account against Hoffenheim in January.

Now he could come up against his younger brother in a tussle of two Germany youth internationals with American passports - Malik even featured twice for USA's U15s - who are both at home in Bavaria.

"That would be a dream for sure, it would be great, with our mum watching in – I'd love to play against him," Timothy told bundesliga.com. "I'm happy with every day he's at Bayern; I'm incredibly proud of him. Hopefully he'll keep getting more and more playing time and become a great player."

As for Fürth's chances, Timothy knows it is going to be tough, but not impossible.

Timothy Tillman will have his eyes on the ball when he faces his brother Malik and Bayern Munich this weekend. - Sportfoto Zink / Wolfgang Zink via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Zink

"It's David vs. Goliath," said Timothy. "We're the underdogs who shouldn't be underestimated. We can only aim to try to trouble the big names and perform as well as we can on the day. We know Bayern are huge favourites, but we also know they can be beaten.

"Bayern are the measure of all things in the Bundesliga. If you can score against them, you don't need to be afraid of anybody else."