Schalke host fierce rivals Dortmund with the hope of sneaking up on them at the top of the table, while high flying Hertha Berlin travel to Munich.
The biggest derby in the Bundesliga is here!
The Nordderby, the Baden-Württemberg derby, or any other local rivalry in the Bundesliga looks toothless in comparison with the Revierderby. With Dortmund and Schalke separated by a measly distance of about 20 miles, the Revierderby takes the notion of a “local derby” to a whole new level. And unlike the formative years of German football, these two teams are now on almost equal footing when it comes to their aspirations. They are both among the top four clubs in Germany, they seem like more than just outside threats in continental football and the possibility of a 7-0 victory in this fixture is impossible.
Both sides go in to this game on the back of contrasting European results against English opposition. Dortmund narrowly edged out Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, while Schalke were trounced by Chelsea. But this surely isn’t going to dampen the blues from Gelsenkirchen as a victory over Dortmund would be the perfect comeback from their continental hiccup.
Dortmund continued to lack their usual fluidity against Arsenal but did what they’ve done well for most of the season so far: grind out results. Their defending may have been desperate and their attacking sluggish for most of the game but they were the ones leaving the Emirates with three valuable points. With the club looking to be on the ascendency ever since that loss against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Revierderby forms the perfect platform from which Dortmund can kick start their chase of Bayern Munich.
Injuries have hit both clubs, and hit them where it hurts most. Dortmund will still be without Sebastian Kehl, Ilkay Gündogan and Lukas Piszczek. The good news for Dortmund is that Marcel Schmelzer is back from injury and should return to the left side of defense, giving young Erik Durm a much needed rest. Schalke will surely be without the services of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan, Marco Höger and Kyriakos Papadopoulos, while Kevin Prince Boateng and Jermaine Jones remain doubtful for the game.
Bayern’s unstoppable form means that Dortmund just cannot afford to slip up on a regular basis and the loss against Gladbach wasn’t too long ago. Schalke, on the other hand, are embroiled in an intense battle between half the league for the European spots knowing that wins against the “bigger” clubs could help take them a long way. Both sides know that dropping points would not only hurt their pride but also make them lose valuable ground in their respective fights within the league.
Schalke 04: Hildebrand – Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Aogo – Jones, Neustädter – Clemens, Boateng, Draxler – Szalai
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Großkreutz, Hummels, Subotic, Schmelzer – Sahin, Bender – Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Reus – Lewandowski
Schalke 2-1 Dortmund
Hertha make the daunting trip to Munich
Travelling to Munich to face the defending champions surely doesn’t make for an enjoy weekend but it’s inevitable for sides in the Bundesliga. Hertha Berlin are the ones chosen to take to the Allianz Arena this weekend but the fearless attitude that they’ve displayed since their return to top flight football might just take them a long way in this fixture.
Hertha have been a pleasant surprise this season and currently sit pretty in the final Champions League place. They’ve proven to be a very difficult side to break down having conceded just nine goals in the league so far, the third best in the league along with Bayer Leverkusen. Keeping a rampant Bayern attack at bay will be a terribly difficult task but if there’s any club in the Bundesliga that looks capable of troubling Bayern’s attack at the moment, it is Hertha.
With Jos Luhukay at their helm, Hertha will surely come to this game with a sound plan. They will have learnt from Leverkusen’s showing against Bayern a few weeks ago. Sitting back and hoping to catch Bayern on the break will be their best hope on Saturday.
Whatever Hertha’s attitude maybe, Bayern’s sheer brilliance will undoubtedly be on show. Pep Guardiola’s side obliterated their Czech opponents in the Champions League on Wednesday night and will be looking to replicate that performance against Hertha this weekend. Guardiola is blessed with an ample number of incredible attackers and the “continental hangover” shouldn’t really be a factor in this department.
The only worry for the Spanish tactician might be the absence of Dante in defense. Questions can be asked of the likes of Jerome Boateng and Daniel Van Buyten but given the sheer brilliance of the side as a whole, it seems unlikely that Hertha will have too many opportunities to take advantage of the minor frailties in this Bayern side.
Bayern Munich: Neuer – Rafinha, Van Buyten, Boateng, Alaba – Lahm – Götze, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Ribery – Müller
Hertha Berlin: Kraft – Pekarik, Lustenberger, Langkamp, Bergh – Hosogai, Kobiashvili – Allagui, Skjelbred, Ben-Hatira – Ramos
Bayern Munich 3-1 Hertha Berlin
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga…
Stuttgart host Nuremberg in the Friday fixture with the hope of continuing the good run of form. On Saturday, Hoffenheim make the trip to the impenetrable AWD Arena to face Hannover, Bayer Leverkusen look to build on their Champions League showing as they face Augsburg, Mainz and Braunschweig face off for three hugely valuable points, and finally Wolfsburg host Werder Bremen in the late kick off.
Sunday sees Freiburg search for that elusive first win as they welcome Hamburg SV, while Borussia Mönchengladbach look to take advantage over Eintracht Frankfurt’s mid week European trip in the last game of the week.