The winter break saw us implement a new tactic, “the BVB TOTAL TAKTIK”. I’d played around with the ideals of a high pressing game, where we take advantage of the pace and creativity of our players, and I was finally able to settle on a rough set of principles which I was then able to build on. I proved fruitful, and in our three friendly fixtures against Barcelona B, Paderborn and Bielefeld respectively, we came away with three 4-1 victories. The tactic was creating lots of chances, but I had some concerns defensively, which were amended in the next drafts of the tactic.
We restarted the Bundesliga with a 2-2 draw at Frankfurt, followed by a 3-2 win over Leverkusen, before going on a sensational run of form, only ending in a tragic 3-0 loss to Werder Bremen in April. The league was writing itself, and wasn’t proving to be very dramatic.
Bayern continued their awful season, at one point dropping as far as 6th. Unsurprisingly, Carlo Ancelotti didn’t last the season, and was ditched after a loss to Leverkusen. Paco Jemez was the surprise replacement, and Bayern did pick up form, but the damage was done, and they never stood a chance of catching us, especially after we beat them 2-1 at the Allianz Arena.
Schalke, who had had a good run of form were also another team to fall away, although I feel I may have had a hand in that. With the new tactic in place, I began scouting players for next season who would work well for us, identifying Leon Goretzka as a potential pivotal player in midfield. He had all the technical, mental and physical skills to impose himself in our system. Before long, a move had been agreed, much to the anger of the Schalke faithful. This was in April, and what followed was a collapse only Schalke are capable of. From 2nd to 8th, no surprise their manager won’t be returning next season either.
With no clear rivals, and with a team on fire, we walked the league, finishing 18 points ahead of Leverkusen in second.
With no domestic cup competition (thanks Hertha), the real drama came in the Champions League. Finishing second in the group saw us draw Jose Mourinho’s Manchester City in the first knockout stage, a very hard opponent. It was going to be tough, especially with jose doing his typical mind games before hand.
The first leg was played at ours, with the BVB Total Taktik set to counter. City hammered on our door, but we stood firm, and with the game poised at 1-1, we snatched two late goals to win the first leg 3-1. The second leg was much the same, but with City pushing further up the pitch, we could hit with pace, and it was no surprise when we matched them across all areas of the pitch, finishing 2-2, 5-3 on aggregate.
Next came Italian mega giants Juventus. A physically strong team, with the amazing Paulo Dybala up front. We played away in the first leg, securing a 1-1 draw that Tony Pulis would be proud of. Back at the Westfalenstadion, Paul Pogba and company could do nothing, as they were reduced to 10 men, and we walked away 2-1 victors on the night! We were into the semis.
All the major contenders you associate with the competition were out. We drew Tottenham, whilst Benfica drew Arsenal. You knew the English media would be loving a North London Derby final, but Benfica’s
5-1 first leg win over Arsenal destroyed any hope for the gunners. We did our part as well, with a 2-1 win, and a 0-0 at White Hart Lane. We were strong, and we were in the final.
That’s where the romance died. Benfica were a strong side…and they took the lead, shortly before Schmelzer got himself sent off. Somehow we managed to get ourselves back into it with a goal from Mhkitaryan, only for Piszczek to get himself sent off. Down to 9 men in the Champions League Final. Despite our best efforts, we could only hold onto the score line, with the lottery of penalties deciding the game.
It hurt, as Passlack and Hummels missed their penalties, seeing Benfica win the Cup.
It was a tough way to end the season, tough on the players, especially considering we will probably not get another chance like this again anytime soon.
There are reasons to be optimistic though. A rebuilding of the squad is now in full swing, with Goretzka, Kimmich and Dragovic all making their way into the club. Some players will no doubt be moved on, and with the money given to us, we could even afford to splash out on a world class signing, if the right players leave the club.
What do you think? Can we go one better? How will we do next season? And what should be our priorities?
You can follow the BVB adventures on @VRFussball for regular updates.