Sparks to fly in Ruhr derby
– Schalke 04 plot to become the first Bundesliga side to beat Borussia Dortmund this season and extend the German league leaders’ recent misery in Gelsenkirchen in today’s Ruhr Valley derby.
This is the first time in six years Dortmund go into the derby on top of the table, but they last won at the Veltins Arena half a decade ago.
A gulf of 19 points and 12 places in the table separates the clubs, who are only 33km apart, but Schalke are itching to get one over their high-flying neighbours and bitter rivals.
Dortmund have not won any of the last five derbies and Schalke ran out 2-0 winners in Gelsenkirchen last April.
The Royal Blues held an open training session for home fans yesterday to fire the city up for one of European football’s most passionate derbies.
“In derby games, there is no outsider and no favourites,” said Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco (above).
“We will do everything to come out of the derby with a positive result.”
Tedesco sees his team’s pressing as their biggest weapon, plus the improving form of midfielders Sebastian Rudy and Nabil Bentaleb, whose penalty rescued a point in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim.
However, the Royal Blues have huge injury problems up front with forwards Mark Uth, Franco di Santo and Breel Embolo sidelined, while Guido Burgstaller and Steven Skrzybski are struggling to be fit in time.
In contrast, Dortmund’s attack is on fire.
Goal-machine Paco Alcacer, the league’s joint top-scorer with ten goals, has scored nine times off the bench and hit the net in each of his last three games.
England winger Jadon Sancho may be unavailable due to a family bereavement but captain Marco Reus has scored four goals and set up another in his last four games, including a brace in the 3-2 win at home to Bayern Munich.
Meanwhile defending champions Bayern will hope Dortmund stumble in Schalke to help them close the nine-point gap when they host strugglers Nuremberg at the Allianz Arena.
We will do everything to come out of the derby with a positive result. Domenico Tedesco Schalke 04 coach