Florian 'The Scout' may think he was the only one who witnessed FC Bayern München clinch the first title of the season against Borussia Dortmund in Sunday’s Supercup, but he should know 'The Coach' is always watching!
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 Raul 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 opening weekend of a season can be a veritable minefield of problems in the Official Fantasy Bundesliga whether it be a pre-season star that isn’t selected or an unforeseeable upset that costs you dearly. Fortunately, with the 2016/17 campaign drawing ever closer we have at least been given a small glimpse into what life might be like with players from Germany’s top two sides in your squad.
So what conclusions can we draw beyond the fact that Bayern are rather good, Dortmund have a bit of potential and Manuel Neuer is a pretty decent goalkeeper?
Pressing could provide added value
Dortmund, the birthplace of Gegenpressing, a high-octane philosophy introduced by the legendary Jürgen Klopp and one that now appears to be being perfected by his successor Tuchel.
Bayern appeared somewhat unsettled by the pressure applied by BVB during the first half. In their audition for the job of partnering Julian Weigl in holding midfield, Sebastian Rode and Gonzalo Castro were relentless in harrying Bayern in central positions, but it was the frontline that impressed me most.
Adrian Ramos, Shinji Kagawa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and debutant Ousmane Dembele all diligently went about trying to wrestle back possession as high up the pitch as possible. The desire to win challenges suggests that Dortmund’s forwards, including star man Marco Reus when he returns from injury, will rack up fantasy points on top of those gained for goals and assists - assuming Neuer isn’t between the sticks.
Ancelotti opts against major alterations
In Carlo Ancelotti’s first competitive game as Bayern head coach, I would put their first-half performance down to ring rust as opposed to teething problems. My impression was that the Italian has made minor adjustments as opposed to wholesale changes. Where predecessor Pep Guardiola preferred an interchangeable 4-1-4-1 formation, Ancelotti set his side up in a more rigid 4-3-3 system.
In midfield Arturo Vidal was charged with box-to-box duties and regularly got into goalscoring positions, making him a strong candidate to be your captain. At the back Philipp Lahm and David Alaba were still encouraged to push forward, providing width and a likely source of assists.
Perhaps the most important alteration though, was that Ancelotti appears to have afforded his players the freedom to alternate from their possession-based style of play. Bayern were still methodical in their approach, but were on occasion more direct than they were under Guardiola, as evidenced by Vidal’s opener.
That won’t always be possible against deep-lying opponents, but it does provide fond flashbacks to their historic treble winning season. I’ll be back soon with advice on squad choices and formation options, but until then keep counting the sleeps – the Bundesliga is almost back!