Borussia Dortmund squeezed into the top four last season on goal difference, finishing 29 points behind perennial champions Bayern Munich. With Bayern claiming the Bundesliga title six years in a row, few thought they would face a title challenge this season, but with areas of their squad starting to creak, Dortmund have been the side to take advantage.
With 27 games played, BVB have lost just twice in the league, meaning they lead their Der Klassiker rivals by two points with seven rounds to go. Dortmund claimed back-to-back league titles under Jurgen Klopp in 2011-12, and they may have to wait a long time for another opportunity.
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Borussia Dortmund are renowned for an intense playing style, so it won’t be a surprise that you will need to play attacking football with the German side. They have a great history developing young players too, so you will also be expected to sign young players for the first team, and develop players using the club’s youth system.
With a gap in quality and finances between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, you will only need to qualify for the European Champions Cup through your league placing. For the German Cup, you will need to reach the semi-final, whilst aiming for the final will add an extra £1 million to your transfer budget. As for Europe, you will need to get to the knockout stages, but if you target the quarter-finals you will receive a further £1.7 million.
It makes perfect sense to implement the Gegenpress tactical style with Dortmund, but you could also go for wing play, control possession or tiki-taka. In games when you expect to see less of the ball, go for fluid counter-attack.
Under Lucien Favre, BVB have mixed between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 this season, and we have tweaked the latter into a ‘4-2-3-1 DM Wide Asymmetric M (CL)’. With versatile players in wide areas you have the option of moving them deeper into a 4-4-1-1 in matches where you expect to see less of the ball.
Roman Burki is the number one goalkeeper, as the on-loan Achraf Hakimi slots into the back four alongside Omer Toprak, Manuel Akanji and Raphael Guerreiro.
Axel Witsel is the defensive midfielder, with fellow new signing Thomas Delaney slightly further ahead. New England international Jadon Sancho comes in on the right wing, with World Cup winner Mario Gotze in the number 10 role and star man Marco Reus out on the left. Paco Alcacer is up front on his own.
On the bench go for Marwin Hitz, Abdou Diallo, Lukasz Piszczek, Julian Weigl, Mahmoud Dahoud, Christian Pulisic and Maximilian Philipp.
Dortmund may not be in the top bracket of European clubs, but they still have a couple of players who are good enough to be part of Europe’s elite.
Marco Reus – CA 4.5 star (167), PA 4-5 star (168)
Marco Reus suffered from a number of years struggling with injury, even missing Germany’s World Cup win in 2014. It’s no surprise that since he has returned to form and fitness Dortmund are competing for the Bundesliga title once again with the left winger or attacking midfielder scoring 19 goals and adding 10 assists in all competitions this season.
On FM, the German star has stats of 18 off the ball, 18 acceleration and 17 finishing to take his CA to 167. This is just one of his potential of 168 with the 29-year-old valued at £61 million and on wages of £190,000 a week.
Axel Witsel – CA 4 star (159), PA 4 star (170)
Axel Witsel has been a welcome addition to the Dortmund midfield, adding steel and composure. It has been great to see the defensive or central midfielder finally play in one of Europe’s top leagues, having previous played in his native Belgium, Portugal, Russia and China. Aged 29, he has left himself just enough time to make an impression.
Witsel’s 159 CA could still lean back towards his 170 potential, with his best stats being his 19 teamwork, 18 composure and 18 anticipation. He has a value of £35 million with wages of £140,000 a week.
Paco Alcacer – CA 3.5 star (153), PA 4 star (157)
Paco Alcacer’s arrival at Signal Iduna Park has been so impressive that his loan move from Barcelona has been made permanent. The Spaniard has filled the void left by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, scoring 16 goals in the Bundesliga this season – averaging a goal every 60 minutes.
Alcacer’s 153 CA rating can improve to a potential of 157, but aged 24 you would expect this to be higher. His best stats are 18 off the ball, 17 finishing and 16 composure, taking his value to £27.5 million and wages to £69,000 a week.
Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Marcel Schmelzer and Christian Pulisic have all come through the academy at Borussia Dortmund, so who is likely to be the next young star to join the first team.
Sergio Gomez – CA 2.5 star (120), PA 3.5-4.5 star (150-180)
Sergio Gomez has made three appearances for the Dortmund first team, only one of which has occurred this season. Given the form of the side there is little room for the Spanish U19 international, so you may wish to send him out on loan for the campaign. His 120 CA can improve to a superb potential between 150 and 180, with his value at £2.1 million and with strong wages of £17,250 a week for a 17-year-old.
Manuel Pherai – CA 2 star (103), PA 4-5 star (130-160)
Another attacking midfielder, Manuel Pherai is a Dutch U18 international. He has been a regular for Dortmund’s U19 side this term, but is still two campaigns away from being in the first team picture. A 103 CA can improve to a potential between 130 and 160, with the 17-year-old valued at £300,000 with wages of £850 a week.
Luca Unbehaun – CA 1.5 star (96), PA 3.4-4.5 star (130-160)
It’s always useful to have a young goalkeeper on the books, with Luca Unbehaun the regular number one for Dortmund’s U19 side. He has worked his way up to the Germany U18 squad, and with his 96 CA able to improve to a potential between 130 and 160, he could become your first choice goalkeeper in the next five years.
|Midfield depth||Overall depth|
|Youth prospects||Defence depth|
|Star defenders (Raphael Guerreiro, Abdou Diallo, Achraf Hakimi)|
|Coaching & Scouting staff|
Team Leaders - Marco Reus (C), Mario Gotze, Lukasz Pizszcek (VC)
Highly influential - Marcel Schmelzer, Axel Witsel
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £36 million
Remaining wage budget: £230,000 a week
Players to sell
With a decent budget, there is no desperate need to sell at Borussia Dortmund, but there are quite a lot of bodies in the squad. This is mainly in defence, so you can sell Leonardo Balerdi who has failed to register a single appearance since his arrival in January. The Argentine U20 international should fetch you £3 million and free up £26,000 a week in wages.
That will be it for sales, but you should also consider loaning out young winger Jacob Bruun Larsen and Dan-Axel Zagadou so they can get the gametime they need to improve.
New transfer budget: £36 million
New wage budget: £230,000 a week
Quality centre back
There are some decent centre half options at BVB, but is still the most fragile part of the starting lineup. Bringing in an experienced defender can help you galvanise the back four and rack up the clean sheets.
Medhi Benatia would be the perfect signing as at the age of 31 he can be in your starting lineup for two seasons before making way for the younger Abdou Diallo or Dan-Axel Zagadou. He has already played in Germany with Bayern Munich and at a price of £13 million you almost can’t afford to mis out on him. His wages with Qatari club Al-Duhail are pricey at £90,000 a week, but that should still come under your budget. The former Juventus and Roma man’s best stats are 18 balance, 17 anticipation and 17 bravery.
|Raul Albiol||32||Napoli||Spain||150/ 161||£9m||£67k|
|Simon Kjaer||29||Sevilla||Denmark||150/ 155||£14m||£144k|
|Eder Militao||20||FCP||Brazil||150/ 170||£21m||£15k|
|Stefan Savic||27||A. Madrid||Montenegro||153/ 158||£24m||£77k|
|Daniele Rugani||24||AC Milan||Italy||152/ 165||£28m||£64k|
No Dortmund first team players have contracts expiring at the end of the season, but keep an eye on Lukasz Piszczek and Raphael Guerreiro who’s deals are up next year. In the reserve team, all of Massimo Ornatelli, Denzeil Boadu, Abdelmajid Bouali, Eric Oelschlagel, Dominik Wanner, Luca Kilian, Dario Scuderi and Huseyin Bulut are of contract at the end of the current campaign.
Borussia Dortmund keep their finances in check, and although they are not one of the richest clubs in the world, they are very well run. The overall balance of the club is on the rise, with the profits also improving this season. You should have around £95 million to spend in the transfer market next season, allowing you to take the squad to the next level.
Time to strike
You may not get a better chance to lift the Bundesliga title than in this first season with Borussia Dortmund. Not too much is expected in the other competitions so you can put your sole focus on the league after the turn of the year. Bayern Munich do not have the squad they had a number of years ago, so you must take advantage. Claim a Bundesliga title this season, and you can help BVB step up into one of Europe’s top clubs.
Full Borussia Dortmund player ratings
|Player||Age||Pos||Role||Duty||Role Ability||CA/ PA|
|Roman Burki||27||GK||SK||Support Attack||3 stars||145/ 145|
|Achraf Hakimi||19||DR WBR||WB CWB FB||Support Auto Attack||3 stars||144/ 159|
|Omer Toprak||29||DC||CD NCB BPD||Cover||3 stars||142/ 147|
|Manuel Akanji||23||DC||BPD||Defend Cover||3 stars||144/ 162|
|Raphael Guerreiro||24||DL WBL||FB CWB WB||Attack Support Auto||3.5 stars||148/ 163|
|Axel Witsel||29||DM MC||DLP CM||Defend Support||4 stars||159/ 170|
|Thomas Delaney||26||MC||BBM BWM||Support Defend||3.5 stars||146/ 146|
|Jadon Sancho||18||ML AML MR AMR||Support WP IF AP||Support Attack||3.5 stars||150/ 175|
|Mario Gotze||26||AM ST||AP AM||Support Attack||3.5 stars||151/ 173|
|Marco Reus||29||ML AML AMC||IW Winger IF WP SS||Support Attack||4.5 stars||167/ 168|
|Paco Alcacer||24||ST||Poacher PF AF||Attack||3.5 stars||153/ 157|
|Marwin Hitz||30||GK||SK||Any||3 stars||136/ 138|
|Abdou Diallo||22||DC||BPD||Defend||3 stars||139/ 159|
|Lukasz Piszczek||33||DR WBR||FB WB||Any||3 stars||142/ 156|
|Julian Weigl||22||MC DM||CM DLP||Defend Support Auto||3 stars||143/ 160|
|Mahmoud Dahoud||22||MC||AP DLP||Any||3 stars||138/ 161|
|Christian Pulisic||19||MR AMR||Winger||Support Attack||3.5 stars||147/ 164|
|Maximilian Philipp||24||ST AMC||PF||Attack||3 stars||141/ 155|
|Marius Wolf||23||AMR MR WBR||Winger||Support||3 stars||140/ 146|
|Marcel Schmelzer||30||DL WBL||FB WB||Any||3 stars||137/ 144|
|Jacob Bruun Larsen||19||ML AML MR AMR||IW WP Winger IF DW||Support Attack||2.5 stars||135/ 155|
|Dan-Axel Zagadou||19||DC||BPD||Defend Cover||2.5 stars||130/ 157|
|Leonardo Balerdi||19||DC||BPD CD||Cover Defend||2.5 stars||125/ 148|