FM20 βeta version – Athletic Club Bilbao

One of my first thoughts before the Football Manager 2020 beta was released, was, I will play for some familiar team. I chose Athletic Club Bilbao because I fell in love with the city of Bilbao several years ago and because of Iker Muniain and Aritz Aduriz.

Both these players are long-serving players. Muniain never played for a different club, Aduriz played for the club between 2005 to 2008 and he joined again in 2012. 

I still remember his fantastic Europa League form when he scored 10 goals in 14 matches during the 2015/2016 season and 11 goals in 14 matches during the 2017/2018 season. He was a top goalscorer of the campaign despite Bilbao was knocked-out of the competition in the Quarter Final and the last 16 stages respectively.

The media prediction was to finish 6th in the Spanish top tier and the club board wanted to qualify for the UEFA Europa League.

With the new Club vision screen and mainly the feature itself, you can see your 5-year plan and your progress very easily.

My own vision and plan were to stay here just for one season and just only put my hands on the new game.

The club culture is Develop players using the club’s youth system. That’s very close to me. But on the other hand, it’s too good when you want to test the transfer system, especially if you still have in your mind the fact about Basque-only transfer policy.

I decided to use and test two different formations: 4-3-3 with a flat midfield (my favourite one) and 4-4-1-1. I had the second one hidden somewhere in my head for a long time and I wanted to try to create the good one.

When you check the screenshots with the result, you can see it took a lot of testing during the start of the save and there are mixing results. The 4-4-1-1 formation with Cautious mentality worked very well mainly during the first 55 or 60 minutes of the match. When teams started to be more active in the match we were usually the second team on the pitch.

After the Barcelona defeat at the start of October 2019, I decided to play with the 4-3-3. This formation is almost without instructions – team/individual/opposition and many others.

(And what about the training schedules?!?)

It really kicked the season off. The perfect results including a 4-0 win over Real Madrid and also 9 clean sheets in 10 matches. And we moved up to the 1st place after the 26th round. It was a really good league title battle with Barcelona until the last round.

We were tied with 79 points five matches before the end of the season. They tied 1-1 away with Celta Vigo in the 36th round and we moved up.

The penultimate match at home against Betis was perfect for the 4-4-1-1 formation because we were 1-0 up but also one man down from 34th minute. And we won 2-0.

Both teams won also the last league round and we won the league by two points ahead of Barcelona. Thirty matches without losing, 28 clean sheets (the number 1 keeper Unai Simón kept 26 of them), 13 matches without conceding in a row.

Somehow we also won the Spanish Cup so it’s a Double season with Athletic Club Bilbao as we beat Real Madrid 2-0 in the final.

As I mentioned at the beginning, two players were one of my reason why I played with Bilbao. Unfortunately, Aritz Aduriz was already set for retirement at the end of the season and his attributes were worse and worse, same as his motivation probably. He had some injuries and in the end, he made just 13 appearances in the starting XI and scored just two goals.

On the other hand, Iker Muniain was the captain of the squad. He made 39(1) appearances, scored 11 goals and made 7 assists. He scored one of his goals in the cup final and he ended the season with the average rating of 7.46 in all competitions.

Above the expectations

Even before the end of the season, several players came to me they want to play for a bigger club because it’s impossible to win the league title here. Iker Muniain, Inigo Martinez, Inaki Williams… all these players are key players for the club and they would be truly missed.

The other side is, if I would continue with this save, I would sell them to ensure the club transfer policy will be the same as in real life. Sell key players + develop your own.

Same as the ambitions (mainly my own) changed during the season, the club vision is absolutely different for next seasons.

In the original 5-year plan, the club wanted to secure UEFA Europa League and to reach 5th Spanish Cup round. The plan was to “work towards qualifying for the Champions League” at the end of the 2020/2021 season. And the same in next seasons. No title challenge or something like that.

But straight after the league title was confirmed after the last match final whistle, the 5-year plan was changed.

Continue winning the First Division.

The main change in the 5-year plan. The board now wants more league titles.

↓ The club vision before and after ↓

A player to watch?

  • Full Name: Aimar Oroz Huarte.
  • Media Description: Midfielder (thanks? 🙄)
  • Nationality: Spanish. Other Nationalities: Basque.☑️
  • Team-mate comparison: Similar type of player to Iker Muniain 🤔

This young footballer is not a star. Not yet. I’m sure he would be if I would continue with this save and I’m sure I will try to follow him in the game and in a real-life too.

He was the one and only first-team signing during this one season with Bilbao. I bought him for €4M from Atlético Pamplona in January so he spent the second half of the season with us. I know, from one of the two big rivals.

Oroz played as CM(S), CM(A), AM(S) but what was important for me to sign him? You can say his physical attributes are not good enough.

He was put on Strength additional training focus but I like he has First Touch, Passing and Decisions attributes values at 14 despite he still is only 18. Vision attribute even better by one.

Playing Time Pathway was set to “Fringe Player” – that means he “expects to be given the occasional opportunity to come into the first team and impress.”

This pathway is one of the new features in the game. I didn’t change my approach of including young players into the match squad but I feel the fact we are able to use these terms like Regular Starter, Impact Sub etc. can help some FM players just in terms of the terminology.

As he made 21 appearances and scored five goals in the 2nd half of the season, his actual playing time was changed to Regular Starter and he is delighted with the amount of game time.

When you look at his current attributes, I’m sure he can be the excellent playmaker of your team with the right development and enough playing time.

*This young midfielder has one small insignificant plus – I loved to watch Pablo Aimar back in time so it was great to have a player with “Aimar” over his head during the games.

Thanks for your time and see you next time when I will have something to write about.

As always, if you would like to ask something, just let me know.

Don’t forget, you can join FMSlack via THIS link. My channel is #fmrensie but there are many other interesting channels to talk about FM.

Until next time…take care!


A Football Manager addict and lover for many years. You can follow me on Twitter or in Football Manager Slack – #fmrensie channel.

10 Replies to “FM20 βeta version – Athletic Club Bilbao

  1. I love this. I also loved your flat 3 midfield in 2019 and used that as my tactic for pretty much the duration of the game, so I was excited to see this post from you.

    My question to you is (and I appreciate this might be a big question) – how would you advance the tactic based on the improved quality of your players?

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