Dortmund have a ‘must-win’derby against Schalke
BORUSSIA DORTMUND'S impressive performances in the Champions League could be quickly forgotten by their fans if the team loses the Ruhr derby today at Schalke.
The showdowns between the two neighbouring clubs are some of the most contested clashes in the Bundesliga. For fans of both clubs, these are the highlights of the season.
“We want a derby win,” Dortmund fans chanted after Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk secured Dortmund’s place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time in 15 years.
“I find it weird, but it shows how important that match in Schalke is. For the fans, it is the game,” defender Neven Subotic said.
With Bayern Munich 17 points ahead, Dortmund have proclaimed second place their goal for the season, and are only one point ahead of Bayer Leverkusen.
Schalke held second place early in the season but then went through a slump.
The club has won their last two, though, and seem to have stabilised under new coach Jens Keller, who is striving to keep the job into the next season.
Schalke stunned Dortmund 2-1 away from home in the first half of the season and are now beginning again to look at Champions League slots. Schalke are 10 points behind Dortmund.
One of the heroes of Schalke’s win in Dortmund, Marco Hoeger, will be back in the spotlight. Hoeger will replace influential midfielder Jermaine Jones, who is suspended.
Schalke are coming off a 4-1 win in Wolfsburg, where Julian Draxler scored twice.
Draxler is only 19, but is about to play his 100th Bundesliga match, the youngest Schalke player to reach the milestone in the club’s history.
“A win in the derby would be just the right thing,” Draxler said.
Dortmund beat Hannover 3-1 in their last Bundesliga match, but could be without midfielders Sven Bender and Sebastian Kehl, who are both nursing injuries.
Dortmund’s only realistic chance of earning a title this season is to win the Champions League.
Dortmund won the Bundesliga championship two seasons in a row and also grabbed the German Cup last year. But they lost to Bayern in the quarter-finals this season and have little chance of catching their rival in the league.
Bayern, who have won all seven of their Bundesliga matches since the mid- season break, scoring 20 and conceding one goal, host promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf today and look likely to extend the streak ahead of their Champions League game against Arsenal.
Third-place Leverkusen travel to Mainz, while fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt visit Hannover tomorrow hoping to end a fourgame scoring slump.
If Eintracht lose and Freiburg beat Wolfsburg today, Freiburg will move past Frankfurt to claim a Champions League qualifying spot.
Hoffenheim travel to Greuther Fuerth and will drop to last place if they lose.
Greuther Fuerth are two points behind in last place and a defeat would likely doom Hoffenheim, who caused a sensation when they were promoted five years ago.
But the project has stalled and Hoffenheim are already five points away from the relegation playoff slot.
Stuttgart host Hamburger SV tomorrow. – Sapa-AP