The Journeyman | BVB: Part 6 – Farewell to a Legend

Borussia Dortmund saw off a stern test from Bayern Munich to seal their second successive Bundesliga title with an unbeaten season in 2034/35 – emulating the achievement we managed with Valencia in 2028/29.

It had been a fantastic second year in Germany but, despite the further domestic success that saw me lift my tenth league title, an inability to compete on the biggest stage sees a 16-year wait for a Champions League success continue.

This post will look back on a second successful season with Germany and pay tribute to a legend of the save – and probably my favourite player of the save so far – Daniel Braganca.

Key Dortmund performers

The main man behind this season of success has to be striker Cataldo Strambelli, who we signed from £40 million from Liverpool in the summer. He went on to bag 31 goals in 31 league games – having only managed 33 in the previous seven seasons – and a total of 38 in 44 in all competitions. He also got 8 assists, won 12 player of the match awards and averaged 7.56 across the season. Unsurprisingly, Inter, Juventus and Arsenal are already sniffing around him.

The next top scorer was fellow Italian international Jajá, who scored 15 in 37 in all competitions and had a real purple patch in the middle of the season. Left-winger Hitoshi Nakajima scored 11, Matías Sarue scored nine from midfield, and backup winger/striker Jocemar Campestrini scored eight.

Creativity wise, big-money signing Martin Flores led the way with 13 assists, followed by Jajá and Nakajima with 11. Legend of this save Daniel Braganca followed with 10, and he will not play another game for me after deciding to move to Benfica when his contract expires. I worked out that since we handed him his Sporting debut in 2020/21, he’s scored 56 goals and got 68 assists in 219 games for me with Sporting and Dortmund compared to 25 goals and 57 assists in 246 matches without me at Chelsea and Barcelona. And he captained both of the sides I managed him at. What a legend.

Elsewhere, the centre-back partnership of Adolphe Gérard and George – who’s 31 and his contract expires in 12 months – performed well with 7.19 and 7.20 ratings respectively. But a key area for improvement is at right-back, as Justin Dos Santos only managed one assist all season, got 19 yellow cards, was largely sub-standard, and he’s 26.

Award winners

Strambelli rightly won the fans’ player of the season, although he only claimed 46% of the vote. Nakajima, who also won young player of the season and goal of the season for a striker against Salzburg that also won Champions League goal of the season, came close with 31% followed by the living legend himself Braganca with 14%. While Flores was named as signing of the season, which probably should have gone to Strambelli too.

Strambelli also won the German Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer awards. And he won the European Golden Shoe

Bundesliga team stats

Bayern led the way with 91 goals, followed by us on 85, then a big gap back to 8th-placed Wolfsburg’s 66. But we did create the most chances (138), had the most shots on target (341) and had the best shots on target ratio (55%). We also scored the most direct free-kicks (4), most goals from corners (8), second-most from direct free-kicks (7), and won and scored the most penalties (8 and 6).

We also had the best defence in the league, conceding just 20 – which was one less than Leverkusen and two less than Bayern. And, of course, we were the only team not to lose all season, which culminated in us setting a new record of 54 Bundesliga games unbeaten.

Bundesliga player stats

Strambelli unsurprisingly finished as the Bundesliga top scorer with 31 in 31. He averaged a goal every 89.30 minutes, had the most shots (156) and shots on target (98), and the most player of the match awards (10). He also claimed the highest average rating with a frankly ridiculous 7.75 in 31 matches.

Interestingly, the second-highest scorer was also one of our players, albeit Ricardo Martínez scored his 20 goals on loan at Bochum! While the third top-scorer was our former Valencia striker Vedran Stamenkovic, who scored 15 for Leipzig, and in fourth was our Sporting youth academy product Thabo Khune, who scored 14 for Bayern. Jajá came seventh with 12 league goals.

Nakajima completed the most dribbles in the league with 6.33 per 90 minutes. While the hero that is Braganca completed the most key passes in Bundesliga with 82, three more than anyone else. However, we didn’t have a single player in the top 20 for pass completion, which is a minor concern.

Goalkeeper Nicolás Rodriguez was our only player to appear in all 34 games, while Braganca impressively played in all but one.

A look around Europe

Elsewhere in Europe, Chelsea won the Premier League to stop Liverpool’s run of four titles – which means Man United still haven’t won it in 22 years! Juventus won their third consecutive Serie A and Monaco defended their Ligue 1 title. In Portugal, Sporting won their second title in 3 years – and third since we left nine years ago – while Real Madrid wrestled La Liga back off another former club Valencia.

Our rivals Bayern won the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Man City, in which they scored in the 89th and 92nd minutes. Poor old City, taking United’s payback for 1999. And Arsenal won the Europa League with a 3-0 victory over surprise package Red Star in the final.

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