There may have been a bomb found near the Signal Iduna Park on Thursday, but the real explosives will be on the pitch come Saturday afternoon as FC Schalke 04 head to the home of Borussia Dortmund with both sides desperate for victory and the bragging rights of the Ruhr district.
One of football’s most enticing derbies has conjured up some fantastic displays over the years and neither side will be pulling any punches at the Westfalenstadion, especially with Dortmund down in twelfth position, the yellow and blacks know they need every point they can get their hands on to finish in the top four.
Saturday’s visitors arrive at the home of Borussia Dortmund looking to get one over on their old rivals and keep their place in the Champions League places of the Bundesliga. Royal Blues midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta reeled out the old cliché when it comes to derbies and form telling the club’s website “A derby is another game, it has it's own rules.”
Finely Poised Record
This will be the 86th meeting between the two sides, with both teams claiming victory 30 times each and the sides sharing the spoils on 25 occasions. The atmosphere is sure to be emphatic as both look to edge ahead on that front and get a 31st win in the Revierderby.
The two teams will be looking to their key players to perform in what is sure to be a tight contest, Schalke 04 are boosted by the return from suspension of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, which couldn’t come sooner as the team have only managed three goals in their last six Bundesliga games.
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Dortmund on the other hand will be looking to keep a three match winning run in the league going and will be eager to see forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus keep their goalscoring form going with the former netting four in the club’s last three domestic matches and the latter scoring in each of Dortmund's last four games in all competitions.
Di Matteo’s Debut Derby
Former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo will be leading FC Schalke 04 into his first Revierderby, but the Champions League winning boss will relish the atmosphere and with Huntelaar returning the Italian will be hoping that the Dutch striker’s comeback can inspire fellow forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and the Royal Blues to three points at the hands of their neighbours.
Unfortunately for Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp, Lukasz Piszczek picked up a serious injury against Juventus in mid-week and will be out of action for the next six weeks. Fellow defender Sokratis Popastathopoulos is a doubt too, though midfielder Kevin Kampl is fit following a virus.
Dortmund’s local hero Marco Reus stated the importance of the match and told bundesliga.com the team will “run and fight until you drop and you simply cannot lose.” On the grand scheme of things there may only be three points at stake, but this exciting encounter holds far more significance for both bragging rights and future successes.
Predicted Line Ups:
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Sokratis, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gundogan, Sahin - Blaszczykowski, Kagawa, Reus - Aubameyang
Schalke: Wellenreuther - Howedes, Neustadter, Nastasic - Barnetta, Fuchs - Aogo - Hoger, Boateng - Choupo-Moting, Huntelaar