Football Manager 2020: Borussia Dortmund Guide – Tactics, formations, transfer targets & more

Can you break Bayern’s grip on the Bundesliga and bring silverware back to Dortmund?

George Howson by George Howson
fm20 borussia dortmund team guide

It seems like an age since Borussia Dortmund’s time in the sun. Der BvB won the Bundesliga twice under Jürgen Klopp in the early 2010s but have since been outclassed by Bayern Munich at every step.

FC Bayern has won seven championships in a row, but Dortmund is enjoying a renaissance of late. Superb youth players, some top talents and some of the most passionate fans around has seen Die Borussen become part of a four-way battle for this season’s crown.

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It’ll be tough to surpass what Lucien Fabre has achieved so far, but winning the league for the first time since 2012 would be a massive statement.

Here’s our ultimate guide to ending Bayern’s Bundesliga streak in Football Manager 2020!

Club vision

Borussia Dortmund's starting FM20 club vision
REALISTIC: Dortmund’s board’s expectations for your first few seasons are achievable

This new feature has been a big success in FM20. It is both a short-term and long-term set of goals for the club under your direction, as laid out by the board.

It includes play style aims, financial targets, and competition results, with increasing expectations over each year of your tenure.

READ MORE: FM20: Chelsea Team Guide

Dortmund has got a shopping list of requirements and expectations but let’s disect them to see what they want from you as a manager.

With regards to the signings, the board wants you to sign young German players from rival Bundesliga clubs. This isn’t an issue seeing as German players make up the majority of Germany’s top league.

Your playstyle should be attacking and entertaining, definitely possible given the advantage in ability you have over most Bundesliga sides.

READ MORE: FM20 Real Madrid Guide

For the competitions, the goals are fairly low for your first season. Dortmund is expected to qualify for the Champions League, which means a top four finish, very achievable.

Reaching the final of the DFB Pokal and the knockout stages of the Champions League is again fair. The board doesn’t regard the German Supercup as important, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t win your first competitive game in charge.

Tactical style & formation

Borussia Dortmund's starting FM20 tactics
HEAVY METAL FOOTBALL: This is how your side will line-up on match days

Jurgen Klopp may have left Germany but his influence on BvB is still around, as the Gengenpress is the best tactic to choose for Dortmund. Control possession and Tiki-taka are also recommended but these are too positive for Dortmund to pull off regularly.

Pace is probably Dortmund’s best asset, as players like Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho are lightning quick and strike fear into defenders throughout Germany.

The attacking midfielders you have at your disposal are fantastic, so the 4-2-3-1 wide is what I personally recommend. 4-4-2 diamond narrow and 4-1-4-1 DM wide are also recommended but don’t optimise the team’s strengths as much as the 4-2-3-1.

Your starting XI is Roman Burki in goal, with a back four of Nico Schulz, Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji and Achraf Hakimi.

READ MORE: Wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga is a must-buy in FM20

Your defensive midfielders should be Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney with Marco Reus in front of them in central attacking midfield. Julian Brandt and Jadon Sancho are your two wingers with Paco Alcacer the lone striker up front.

Your seven on the bench should be Marwin Hitz, Raphael Guerreiro, Julian Weigl, Lukasz Piszczek, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Thorgan Hazard and Mario Gotze.

Best players

Dortmund’s best players were systematically plucked from the side by the richest of European sides and usually Bayern Munich. Those days are largely gone now and BvB have assembled a formidable squad that can challenge for the top silverware regularly.

PlayerPosAgeCA/PABest Stats
Marco ReusM (RL), AM (RLC)30167/17218 acceleration, 18 off the ball, 17 finishing
Mats HummelsD (C)30166/17119 composure, 18 positioning, 18 anticipation
Axel WitselDM, M (C)30159/17019 teamwork, 18 natural fitness, 18 composure
Paco AlcacerST25153/15518 off the ball, 17 finishing, 17 anticipation
Julian BrandtM/AM (RLC)23152/17218 first touch, 16 dribbling, 16 off the ball

Marco Reus and Mats Hummels are the standout talents of the Dortmund side based on current ability (CA). Surprisingly though, Axel Witsel’s potential ability (PA) is high as the aforementioned players, being able to reach 170, despite being 30 at the start of the game.

There’s a myriad of players around the 150 CA value, some will remain there throughout their careers, while some of the younger ones will skyrocket to potentially become the best players on the continent.

Young talent

Dortmund has produced some fantastic footballing talents over the years. Whether they’re from the youth academy or plucked from another Bundesliga club, their scouting team has always had a great eye for quality.

To comply with the board’s requests, you’ll have to make use of your academy and buy from domestic clubs. There are already some great future stars on the books though, with these three being the best of the bunch:

Jadon Sancho – CA 3.5 star (150), PA 5 star (178)

Jadon Sancho FM20 starting attributes
CURRENT GREAT, FUTURE SUPERSTAR: Sancho has one of the highest PA values in FM20.

Jason Sancho is nothing short of incredible. The winger made his England debut as an 18-year-old and has been tearing up the Bundesliga for the past few years at Dortmund.

READ MORE: FM20: Arsenal team guide

His attributes are brilliant for wide play and they will only get better, as he has over 15 years left at the top. That PA value of 178 is the highest in the Dortmund team and will see him be almost as good as Neymar (the highest-rated winger in FM20) when he’s fully matured.

Dan-Axel Zagadou – CA 2.5 star (130), PA 4.5 star (157)

Dan-Axel Zagadou FM20 starting attributes
MAN MOUNTAIN: Zagadou will be a brick wall for players to try and get past.

Mats Hummels is a superb defender but once the centre-back retires, Dan-Axel Zagadou would be a good replacement. The Frenchman is a physical beast, standing 6’5” tall and has excellent strength (17) and jumping reach (18).

Zagadou is lacking in the skill department though, but at 20 years old, he’s got plenty of time to improve on what aren’t bad stats for a youngster.

Jacob Bruun Larsen – CA 2 star (135), PA 3.5 star (150)

Jacob Bruun Larsen FM20 starting attributes
ONE TO WATCH: Larsen could become a top Bundesliga winger in time.

In most sides, Jacob Bruun-Larsen would be a semi-regular starter but due to Dortmund’s strength in depth in wide areas, the Dane won’t get too much first-team action.

READ MORE: FM20: All the best contract expiry signings

Bruun-Larsen is a good player off the bat though, as his attributes like his 15 acceleration, 16 work rate and 16 natural fitness make him a handful for defending full-backs.

Transfer targets

Dortmund's financial projections in Football Manager 2020

Starting transfer budget: £12.9 million

Remaining wage budget: £53,000 a week

Dortmund’s financial forecasts are those which any business analyst would love to see. Turnover is set to steadily increase and despite the expenditure increasing by £100m over the coming three seasons, the club will be making at least £100m in profit every year.

This means that the club’s bank balance is set to quadruple to over £400m by the end of the 2021-22 season. It also allows the transfer budget to be around £200m at the end of the 3 year period, allowing Dortmund to financially challenge Bayern.

READ MORE: All the best left midfielders (ML & AML) to sign in FM20

There isn’t much in the way of a transfer budget and in truth, it’d probably be best to wait until January or next year to make a big signing.

The area of the squad that is weakest is probably right-back (DR) as Pizczek is 34 and Hakimi is only rated 3.5 stars in your squad. You could possibly stretch the budget to be £15m and the remaining wage budget to £30k but that’d be the realistic limit.

Yan Valery FM20 attributes
DECENT COVER: Valery has good potential and is only 20 years old.

At £10.75m in valuation, you could buy Yan Valery from Southampton for around £12.5m. He won’t ask for wages much above £30k either so you’ll be in budget. Valery won’t be good enough to play regularly off the bat but could improve to challenge Piszczek, especially as the Pole will decline in ability.

Alternative options

If Valery doesn’t tickle your fancy, consider these other players instead:

NameAgeClubCountryCA/PAValueWage
Youcef Atal23NiceAlgeria141/146£9.5m£8.5k
Denzel Dumfries23PSVHolland135/148£8.25m£40k
Jayden Bogle18DerbyEngland125/130-160£7.75m£3k

Future transfers

Dortmund will have massive transfer budgets between £100m and £200m in the next few seasons so you’ll have plenty of funds at your disposal. Paco Alcacer is a great striker but despite his young age, he won’t improve much in FM.

There also isn’t too much cover for the lone attacker should he get injured, so it’d be a good idea to spend on another quality forward to give him competition in the coming seasons.

Another position that could do with improvement would be left-back, Schulz is good but not spectacular and he won’t drastically improve.

READ MORE: The best wonderkid midfielders in Football Manager 2020

For the striker position, consider the likes of Tammy Abraham, Lautaro Martinez and Diogo Jota. Yes, they will be expensive (Abraham will cost at least £50m), but they are keen on a move and you largely get what you pay for in today’s transfer market.

For the left-back position, Jose Gaya, Ben Chilwell and Alex Grimaldo are all solid choices that will improve in time. Alternatively, you could try purchase Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid after his loan deal expires.

Contracts

Borussia Dortmund starting FM20 contract situation.
SHAKEY: You’ll have a lot of work to keep your best players at Dortmund.

Dortmund’s contract situation isn’t a good one at the start of FM20 but it could definitely be worse. Piszczek’s deal expires in the summer but it might be time to let him go as he’ll be 36 at the end of the 2020-21 season if you offer him a new deal.

Mario Gotze is the biggest name whose deal’s up at the end of your first season. While he’s not a standout in the side, he is a solid utility player and it’d be a shame to see him go after just one year with you at the helm.

READ MORE: Best young goalkeepers (GK) to sign in Football Manager 2020

At the end of 2020-21, the contracts for Larsen, Wiegl and Burki all expire, you need to tie them down to long-term deals before the start of that season. If they make it to January 2021 without a new contract, most of them can and probably will leave to a new club on a Bosman.

Schmelzer, Hitz and Toprak all have deals that end in summer 2021 but it’s up to you whether you think it’s worth offering new deals. The contracts for Hummels, Sancho, Witsel, Delaney and Zagadou are all ending the following year so there’s no rest for the wicked.

Bundesliga bosses

Knocking Bayern off their perch is definitely possible but keeping them off it long-term won’t be easy. If you buy smart instead of big and focus on youth, you can start a dynasty at the Westfalistadion that will be the most successful in the club’s history.

Success in the Bundesliga could precede silverware on the contingent too. Dortmund has only won the Champions League once in their history and regardless of winning the Bundesliga, a victory in this competition would be huge for the status of the club.

READ MORE: All the best right wingers (MR & AMR) in Football Manager 2020

Borussia Dortmund represent a real challenge in Football Manager 2020 but one that’s thoroughly rewarding when you succeed. With the might of the Yellow Wall behind you and some of the best facilities in Germany, you’ve got every chance of making them one of the most feared teams in Europe once again.

Full Borussia Dortmund player ratings

PlayerAgePosRoleDutyRole AbilityCA/PA
Starting Lineup
Roman Burki28GKSKSupport3 star145/145
Achraf Hakimi27D/WB (RL)WBSupport3.5 star144/159
Manuel Akanji23D (C)BPDDefend3 star144/161
Mats Hummels30D (C)BPDDefend4 star166/171
Nico Schulz26D/WB/M/AM (L)FBSupport3 star143/147
Axel Witsel30DM, M (C)DLPDefend3.5 star159/170
Thomas Delaney27DM, M (C)BBMSupport3.5 star146/146
Jadon Sancho19M/AM (RL)IWSupport3 star150/178
Marco Reus30M (RL), AM (RLC)IWSupport4 star167/172
Julian Brandt23M/AM (RLC)IWSupport3.5 star152/172
Paco Alcacer25 STPAttack3.5 star153/155
Substitutes & Reserves
Marvin Hitz31GKSKSupport2.5 star136/136
Raphael Guerreiro25D/WB (L), M (LC), AM (L)FBSupport3.5 star148/159
Dan-Axel Zagadou20D (C)BPDDefend2.5 star130/157
Julian Weigl23DM, M (C)CMDefend3.5 star143/159
Thorgan Hazard26M (RL), AM (RLC), STIWSupport3 star147/147
Mario Gotze27M/AM (C), STAPSupport3 star149/165
Lukasz Piszczek34D/WB (R)FBDefend3 star142/156
Jacob Bruun Larsen20M/ AM (RL)IWSupport3 star135/155
Leonardo Balerdi20D (C)BPDCover2.5 star125/148
Marcel Schmelzer31D/WB (L)FBDefend3 star137/144
Mateu Morey19D/WB (R)WBSupport1.5 star95/120-150
Mahmoud Dahoud23DM, M (C)APDefend3 star138/161

George Howson

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