Firstly let me say how happy I am to be able to write this piece. A few weeks back, my laptop decided to meet its maker, and I did have concerns that the BVB save would be lost.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to borrow a desktop, which has not only meant the continuation of the save, but the ability to watch in 3D. I maybe coming into that late, but now watching matches like that is astounding, and makes me love the team that bit more.
Secondly, before we recap the second half of the season, a big thank you to all who joined the live tweet of (spoiler, sorry), the Champions League Final. I was blown over by how much of a following it got, and really do appreciate the interaction with you guys. Thank you!
After a successful first half of the season, I was desperate to push on, and become a real force not just in Germany, but in Europe. The team itself was/is very young, and as such has great potential for growth, whilst also impressing with dominant displays at the present. What I hadn’t counted on was insurrection within the ranks.
For a while, Ignacio Camacho had been pushing for action. Now, he is/was a great player, and to be honest, never let me down, but we had evolved past him. The BVB Total Taktik required intelligent, ball playing midfielders, with Camacho being more of the defensive midfielder we utilised in previous seasons. I tried to give game time, but found myself struggling. Camacho was having none of it, and before long had turned the entire team (except loyal Timo Horn) against me.
I had to act quickly, and moved to get Camacho out of the club. It was successful, as the first offer, a €25.5m from Celta Vigo was accepted, and Camacho ushered out of the door. Harsh or not, I felt a change in the way I acted as manager. In the past, I had attempted to be polite, kind, and to have a good spirit with my players. With Camacho, and here after, I felt an almost authoritarian personality shift* when dealing with unhappy and angered players. Removing Camacho destroyed the squad rebellion, proving my methods to be effective. So when Matthias Ginter, a player who had annoyed me through his awful defending, tried the same trick, I was quick to act again. His attempt to turn the team against me fell on deaf ears, as I convinced the team that I had acted in the way I had to act for the good of the club. Ginter was left isolated by his own actions, with an exit now planned for the summer (though he keeps rejecting moves!)
(*In my head, this is similar from the shift in Walter White throughout Breaking Bad, I mention this because this was what was going through my head now I am creating the banner for Season 4)
The Bundesliga continued much in the same way as the first half of the season, as we remained undefeated in the league in 2018. Bayern experienced a resurgence under Paco Jemez, but they are still lacking, and to be honest, offered little in the way of a challenge in the league, seeing us finish 1st, 16 points clear.
Lewandowski’s goal contribution was a main factor in our dominance, with the towering striker topping the Bundesliga Goal Scorer chart with 26 league goals, 42 goals in 49 appearances in total. Well worth the massive fee in my eyes.
Our cup run saw us reach the Semi Final, where we were drawn against Bayern. In a typically difficult match against the Bavarians, a last minute Lahm winner in extra time saw us ditched out of the cup, with another season going by without the big pot returning to Dortmund. Bayern did however go on to beat Wolfsburg in the final, so I suppose we can’t complain about losing to the eventual winners.
To be honest, the main focus was on the Champions League. After the dramatic loss last season, and the huge outlay in transfers, I was desperate to go one better. We’d made it through the group in first, and were drawn against Scottish Champions Celtic in the first knockout stage. I’d had a pretty dodgy record against Celtic, and was not surprised when we came away from Park Head with a 0-0 in the first leg. A good second leg victory was much needed, and I was happy when the team responded with a brilliant 6-0 at the WestfalonStadion. I was especially happy when Mahmoud Dahoud scored the goal of the season, and incredible half volley from 30 yards.
The difficulty level was then ramped up, as we were tied with old rivals FC Bayern in the second knockout stage. It’s a big ask to defeat Bayern, especially under the pressure of a big cup competition, but a 2-0 win at the Allianz, and a 2-2 draw at home saw us dispatch the Bavarians to advance forward. So far, so good.
We were in the Semi Finals, as was Barcelona, Real Madrid, and last year’s nemesis Benfica. The Portuguese drew Real, which meant we were left to face Barca. The first leg would be played at home, and saw me changed my BVB tactic from attacking to standard, if honest just to see how we would do in the opening minutes. But what occurred left me stunned.
6-1!!!!!! A masterful display. We would lose the second leg 3-2 on the night, but with a lead like that, it didn’t matter, especially not when we grabbed 2 away goals on the evening. BVB were through to the final…so were Real Madrid.
The match would take place at the Bernabau, giving Real an uncomfortable advantage. The stage was set, this would be a huge ask. To ramp up the pressure even more, I decided to live tweet the entire thing.
The pressure was well and truly on, but with my strongest team I felt we could do damage to Real. I was right, as in the first minute, a Real attack turned into a speedy Dortmund counter, with the final product being a Pulisic goal! An incredible start!!!
But, the game went on, and my ranting turned into anger, the referee kept giving card after card to my players, whilst turning a blind eye to Madrid fouls. Shocking behaviour, which led to 9 of my players all receiving yellow cards!
Madrid got themselves back in the game, as Hummels became Ginter for a few seconds, and passed the ball right to Ronaldo, who slotted home from close range.
The pressure was well and truly on. The twitter universe was well in support, but as the 90 minutes faded, it was clear that we were going to extra time.
In truth, we were the better team, but we couldn’t get passed Madrid keeper Navas. Then the tension and the fear of penalties really did set in as Erik Durm, already on a booking, made a silly challenge on the edge of our box. The result? A second yellow.
Surely we hadn’t come so far, only to fall at the last hurdle again?
Then, in the last seconds of the game, Varane took out Argentine wonderkid Madoery (who I should probably write a separate blog about, as he is ace!). No card for Varane gained my twitter wrath, but it was all replaced by sheer joy from the resulting free kick. A ball played into Dahoud, slotted away. 2-1. We were going to be Champions of Europe. Twitter went crazy.
We had overcome the demons. We had done it, in the dying seconds, in proper hollywood fashion.
The praise came in. What a way to end the season, what a finish, what an amazing game.
What do you think? How did we do? For more adventures in the BVB save, and for Season 4, follow us on twitter @VRFussball