Borussia Dortmund - boasting the likes of Jadon Sancho (l.) - are one of the most fun teams to take charge of in the latest instalment of Football Manager. - © DFL
Borussia Dortmund - boasting the likes of Jadon Sancho (l.) - are one of the most fun teams to take charge of in the latest instalment of Football Manager. - © DFL
bundesliga

5 Bundesliga teams to manage on Football Manager 21

With the latest edition of Football Manager now released, aspiring coaches will be considering their options for where to begin their career and what sort of challenge they want to take on.

To help you make that crucial decision, bundesliga.com has picked five German teams you might want to consider in FM21, and what that job would entail…

Borussia Dortmund

If you want to follow in the footsteps of Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel as a trophy-winning BVB coach, you’ll need to follow the club’s philosophy of fast, attacking football and bringing through youth. Luckily, you’ll have all the tools at the ready once you take over at the Signal Iduna Park.

Wonderkids like Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Gio Reyna are already taking centre stage in the Bundesliga and also have the Potential Ability to be world class if given the time and chance to develop that they’ve shown they deserve. And then there’s Jude Bellingham and Real Madrid loanee Reinier starting to come through too. Add to them the established talents of Marco Reus and Julian Brandt, and Dortmund will always be fun to play with in attack.

Watch: Dortmund's treasure trove of youngsters

The question for you as a manager, though, is what do you do further back? Defence has often proven an Achilles’ heel for Dortmund - even if they've only conceded seven goals this term - so you will need to make sure that remains solid if you’re going to push Bayern Munich for the title. Lucien Favre has switched between a back three and four this season depending on player ability. Which approach would you take?

BVB also have another potentially world-class centre-back coming through in Nmadi Collins. A very quick ball-playing defender you’ll want to give playing time to as soon as you feel he’s ready.

Dortmund would appear to have all the right ingredients, with a strong combination of youth and experience. It’s just down to you to mix them together in the correct way to potentially dethrone Bayern in the long term.

As one of the older players in the Dortmund team, Mats Hummels could provide valuable experience in what is otherwise a youthful BVB team on FM21. - Lars Baron/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Schalke

Those of a somewhat less Black-Yellow persuasion may fancy a rather different proposition across the Ruhr in Gelsenkirchen. Schalke currently sit bottom of the table after eight matchdays and without a league win since their very first game of 2020.

Morale is low and it’s going to take a certain type of manager to turn that around. This isn’t a job where you walk in and things take an immediate upturn. You will need patience and the motivational skills to get this Schalke team back to their battling best.

The ability and experience is there – perhaps a change of formation will click things into gear? You can also do as David Wagner and Manuel Baum have done and dip into the club’s famous Knappenschmiede academy and promote the next Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil, Leroy Sane or Julian Draxler.

The purse strings are tight in-game at the Veltins-Arena, so you will likely have to work with what you’ve got or move players on to create funds for new signings. You can go a number of ways with this Schalke project if you’re to get them back where they belong at the upper end of the table.

Watch: Schalke's academy dream team

Hertha Berlin

Hertha, by contrast, have been more liberal in their spending and began to build an impressive young squad in the capital. This is essentially your chance to start from scratch in the Bundesliga and try to create your ideal team, but be careful not to destroy the balance in the dressing room, where some of the more experienced members hold sway as team leaders.

That being said, the new nature of the squad means players haven’t yet formed a good level of understanding, so you can have incomings and outgoings now without impacting on that. It will, though, be your job to bring the team together and make them gel as a unit.

The Berliners’ stated goal is to become a team that Germany’s capital can be proud of, challenging for trophies and representing the city in Europe. They are also looking to build a new stadium, with the proposal even included in FM21.

Therefore, there’s a chance to create a legacy with Hertha. The goal over the short term is to push for the top six while also going on a decent cup run, so you’ll have to get your team going quickly before pushing on for greater targets. It’s an interesting project that you can put your own stamp on.

Bruno Labbadia is the real-life head coach at Hertha Berlin - think you can do better on FM21? - DFL/Getty Images/Boris Streubel

Arminia Bielefeld

Bielefeld offer a very different sort of challenge for those looking to test themselves in FM21. The goal here is quite simply to avoid an immediate return to Bundesliga 2. In fact, it’s to avoid the drop in any year.

They may have the smallest budget in the Bundesliga but that only adds to the challenge they pose. Arminia’s squad has been carefully assembled over recent years as they sought to end their decade-long top-flight absence, while they also added some young flair for this season with the likes of Sergio Cordova, Ritsu Doan and Arne Maier. All three have great potential, but they are on loan, so you will have to consider options looking ahead as well.

That being said, it is a settled team and it would be your task to make them tough to beat at the highest level. They’re not asking for the spectacular, rather what it takes to ensure safety. Perhaps then you look to build going forward, utilising the loan market again to improve the team, with the real-world financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic also reflected in the game.

Ritsu Doan has been a revelation for Arminia Bielefeld in 2020/21 - and could drive your FM21 team up the table too. - Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Hamburg

After consecutive fourth-placed finishes in Bundesliga 2 saw HSV miss out on promotion back to the Bundesliga, the club have had to readjust to life in the second tier. It’s a far cry from the glory days of the 1970s and 80s that saw the Red Shorts win three Bundesliga titles, reach two European Cup finals, winning it in 1982/83, and boast two-time Ballon d’Or winner Kevin Keegan in their ranks.

Now it’s about rebuilding for this sleeping giant. The average age of their outfield squad is around 25, and they have some serious potential there in midfielder Amadou Onana, winger Aaron Opoku, right-back Josha Vagnoman and former Arsenal graduate Xavier Amaechi.

That being said, the squad could do with a refresh in some areas in the wake of those two failed promotion pushes. There are players in the dressing room who see themselves as Bundesliga quality and the prolonged stay at this level has impacted morale.

Armed with the likes of Josha Vagnoman (l.), Daniel Thioune (r.) is the man charged with getting HSV back into the big time - can you do the same in the digital world? - imago images / Michael Schwarz

There is some money there to make improvements, but this job will require a more in-depth knowledge of the loan market or quality budget players to return this Bundesliga behemoth to the top flight and then keep it there.

We all love the prospect of taking a team up through the divisions and making them the best. The foundations are in place at HSV, but only if you’re willing to accept a challenge.