The blood, sweat and tears I've put into my Official Fantasy Bundesliga team will, hopefully, all be worth it when Matchday 1 kicks off on Friday. My magnetic tactics board is showing the undeniable wear and tear that only pre-season can produce, but I think I've finally cracked it.
About James: When it comes to tactics and formations, you’ll struggle to find anyone as keen or as knowledgeable as James 'The Coach' Thorogood. James is Bundesliga obsessed, with Sascha Mölders, Juan Arango and Jay-Jay Okocha making up his top 3 all-time favourite players. He is regularly spotted discussing tactics with Carlo Ancelotti over a plate of pasta, and has also been seen animatedly moving salt and pepper shakers across the table while out dining with Thomas Tuchel.
The team selected by Flo ‘The Scout’ gave me food for thought and a few reasons to chuckle, while Matt ‘The Expert’ still has his squad under lock and key. I have consulted head coaches around the league and checked in with a few players to make sure that they, unlike me, didn't enjoy one too many margaritas during the summer months!
With three transfers available each week, my aim was to build my side around a strong core of irreplaceable stars, leaving me room to tinker when it came to breaking down the fixture list on any given weekend. Now I'm confident that I have a team in place, ready and motivated to clinch fantasy football glory or, at the very least, score me big points on Matchday 1.
I take great pleasure in analysing a hard-fought tactical battle, but there's nothing better than seeing a net ripple and the Bundesliga is renowned for its goalscoring exploits.
As result, it seems only logical to pick the two most prolific strikers from the previous campaign in Robert Lewandowski (15M) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (15M). The dynamic duo scored a combined 55 goals last season and it's not outside the realms of possibility that they'll improve upon that tally this season – providing they avoid injury of course.
Taking the final spot up front in my 3-4-3 formation is Vedad Ibisevic (10M), who scored in both legs of Hertha Berlin's defeat to Brondby IF in UEFA Champions League qualifying. With Mario Gomez (12M) unavailable, it was a toss-up between the Bosnian and Hamburger SV newcomer Bobby Wood (8M), but a Matchday 1 fixture at home to newly-promoted SC Freiburg swung it in Ibisevic's favour.
In the engine room of what I'm hoping will be a finely-tuned machine, my top priority was picking box-to-box specialists that could make a difference at both ends of the field. Mahmoud Dahoud (12M) was the first name on my team sheet. The technically-gifted youngster had a hand in 13 goals (five goals, eight assists) last season and is only going to get better in 2016/17.
Bayern's Arturo Vidal (14M) and FC Schalke 04's Johannes Geis (12M) tick a number of boxes in midfield from winning tackles to scoring goals. Vidal has the added bonus of being high up on the list of penalty takers in Munich, while Geis is the Royal Blues' first-choice set-piece taker.
I had toyed with the idea of bringing in Hertha's Vladimir Darida (13M), but needed a bigger goal threat and, with Marco Reus (15M) out of action, Andre Schürrle (13M) became the logical choice considering he scored eight goals in his final nine appearances last season. 1. FSV Mainz 05's Suat Serdar (2M) was chosen to fit the budget, but did start in the DFB Cup first round, so could be a viable option.
My aim was always to only play with three at the back considering how difficult it is to rely upon any side that isn't Bayern or Dortmund from picking up clean sheets on a consistent basis. With penalties, free-kicks and a delightful long-range strike in his locker, David Alaba (14M) was a must for me. Arguably one of, if not the, best left backs in world football, his service from the left flank and understanding with Franck Ribery (15M) should serve him well in the fantasy world.
I wanted to allocate more funds elsewhere, but couldn't convince myself not to pick Jonas Hector. The Germany international will be played out-of-position in holding midfield and has a favourable Matchday 1 fixture against SV Darmstadt 98.
Jeffrey Gouweleeuw (7M) and Christoph Janker (2M) have been the first-choice defensive pairing in pre-season for FC Augsburg, while Hauke Wahl (3M) looks set to partner Marvin Matip at the heart of FC Ingolstadt 04's backline when the season gets underway.
There's only one Manuel Neuer (15M). Is there anything more to be said? He may be the most expensive No.1 in the game, but he will be worth every penny. Neuer kept 20 (!) clean sheets last season and while he may not pick up many bonus points for making saves, he will be a consistent source of points for not conceding, rarely missing a match and being on the winning side.
My second-choice keeper bares no relevance as all he’ll do is drop 1M in value by the end of the season.
You can guarantee my team will change for Matchday 2, but for now I had 150M and that’s what I came up with. I can’t wait for the season to start and see how you all have used the budget. I look forward to being challenged at the top, but be careful, those last-minute transfers can be a real thorn in your side ;)
Never tactics bored,