This is the first post of my new blog save, with 2018/19 Bundesliga runners up Borussia Dortmund. Using the fantastic FM Inside update (https://fminside.net/), I have been able to use the new squad that the black and yellows will have for the new 19/20 season, as we try and challenge Bayern Munich’s dominance at the peak of German football.
With the update set into the game’s database, I would already have a number of new additions, as Dortmund have acted quickly in the transfer window.
Firstly, the return of former captain Mats Hummels from Bayern will be a huge boost to our back four. One of my favourite defenders in real life, he will instantly become a key member of my side’s dressing room. He is capable both technically and physically, and will provide support to the younger members of our defence.
Two wingers arrived, in Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt. Once again players who I highly rate in real life, these will battle out with a set of already capable wingers at the club, and will provide us with great depth in the wide positions. Both are fairly young with space to grow further, and can give us the boost in attack we will need to compete for the title.
At left back, in came Hoffenheim’s Nico Schulz for twenty-two million pounds. He will once again offer us good depth, battling with Portugese international Raphaël Guerreiro for a place in the back four. However, this signing was somewhat ruined by an injury he picked up very early on in our pre-season in the save.
A broken ankle will see him out until the end of the year, with the new full-back unable to make his debut anytime soon.
The two other signings arrived from Barcelona. One, Mateu Morey, is a free youth signing who will be of use to our squad in the seasons to come. He is joined by Paco Alcacer, joining on a permanent transfer after his eighteen-goal loan spell saw him as Dortmund’s top scorer in the 2018/19 season. He will be our main striking option for the beginning of the first season of the save.
With the club’s first team business already completed for the new season, I chose to focus on youth during the transfer window. My first signing highlights this.
For a fee of ten million pounds, our first signing of the save would be twenty-one-year-old Mönchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus. He is a Mezzala or Advanced Playmaker naturally, but can also play as a Box-to-Box midfield player. This cover will be helpful as we try and work out which system and midfield balance will work best for us, and having a player who can play in a variety of roles will help our transition between systems should things not go our way initially.
Our second signing is a popular Bundesliga prospect in Josha Vagnoman. He is a player who I have used in previous FM saves in 2019, and he has grown into a world class right back. Therefore, I thought that spending five and a quarter million to bring him in from Hamburg was a decent decision, as he would offer a future option in his position, with Piszczek retiring at the end of the season, and Hakimi returning to his parent club. Therefore, having a right back in our club who has high potential is going to be useful to us.
Finally, I allowed my director of football to make offers for players both first team and youth during this window. This is not a system of signing players I usually use, but with a high level DoF like Michael Zorc (with twenty ‘Judging Potential’), I thought it was worth a go. His only signing which I confirmed during the summer was the sixteen-year-old Kobenhaven striker Mohamed Daramy. He arrived for £325k and went into our U-19 squad for the next season.
On the way out of the club were many fringe players, or individuals who I felt I would not be able to give game time. I wanted to try youth options when rotating rather than lower ability squad players. Therefore, players such as Omer Toprak, Andre Schurrle and Jeremy Toljan left the club on loan. A couple of the youth players who were unlikely to get starts left on loan too. Leonardo Balerdi and Felix Passlack left for German clubs Darmstadt and Stuttgart respectively.
First Season Objectives
As with most of my saves, I will be treating the first campaign as a feeling out process. I am expected to achieve UEFA Champions League qualification, so will need to earn a top four position in the Bundesliga. I believe this is very possible with the squad we have available, so I will attempt to use the first season to find the best tactic and system for the players we have.
Initially, I decided to go with the tactic that I have used in the past and had success with. I will use this custom vertical tiki-taka with a 4-2-3-1 formation to start with. I normally would use a 4-3-3 but as I have used this formation in the past, I decided to start with it as I felt it fit the options we have better than a three-man midfield would.
Roman Bürki will be a sweeper who sits behind a back four. With Schulz and Diallo both injured, Guerreiro and Ajkanji will partner Mats Hummels and Real Madrid loanee right back Achraf Hakimi in defence. The wing-backs will be responsible for offering overlaps and creating attacking overloads in wide positions, particularly on the left with the inside forward, who will come inside to the half space.
Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney will start as a double pivot in midfield, playing as a DLP and a BBM respectively, offering both playmaking efforts and defensive support behind the three attacking midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 formation. They will rotate with younger members of our first team squad like the newly arriving Neuhaus, and also Julian Weigl, Mahmood Dahoud, and finally the high potential eighteen-year-old former Barcelona youth start Sergio Gómez.
The attacking three initially will include just one of Dortmund’s new additions. Julian Brandt will sit as the Inside Forward on the left-hand side. He will cut inside and look to create openings for attacks, linking up with Marco Reus’ in the Shadow Striker role behind the striker. To the right side of him will be teenage English sensation Jadon Sancho. His excellent performances during the 18/19 season created a huge buzz around him. He is going to be a crucial part of our team, and will start as the outside Winger on the right, looking to get around the opposition left-back and get in behind to create scoring opportunities.
Our striker will be a Deep-lying-forward in Paco Alcacer. He will drop deep and interchange with the shadow striker, who will both look to find space throughout the middle, and will work almost as an unorthodox front two. Both have good technical ability, and will be able to play off of each other well in attacking areas.
We started our pre-season fixtures with a friendly against our youth team in June, and we got off to a great start. We would continue this winning streak throughout our next seven friendlies, ending up with a one hundred percent record in pre-season. Excellent performances with goals and assists from newcomer Florian Neuhaus put him right in contention for a starting spot, with many other first team players adding to the thirty-eight-goal run throughout June, July and August.
So, after a successful pre-season we look forward to our first games of the season. Our Bundesliga campaign begins with the hosting of Augsburg at the Singal Iduna Park, as we look to prepare ourselves for a battle for a place in the Champions League.
Thank you for reading, join us next time for our first competitive matches of the new season.