Borussia Dortmund will look to end their dismal record against Schalke this weekend as they visit Gelsenkirchen in the highly anticipated Revierderby.
It has been a turbulent season for Schalke so far, who have secured only 14 points in 13 matches. The Royal Blues are currently dawdling in mid-table table spots, trailing the Champions League places by a whopping ten points.
Lack of attacking potency has been one of their prime issues, having scored only 14 goals, which is among the lowest in the league. And with all of their main attackers struggling to score on a regular basis, breaching the well-organised Dortmund defence could prove to be difficult for the Ruhrpott giants.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, have enjoyed an excellent campaign so far, leading the table with a stunning seven points margin over second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach. They are also the highest scoring team in the league, netting 33 goals while also boasting the second meanest defence in the league with just 13 goals conceded – making them the favourites going into this game.
However, the Black and Yellows are yet to secure a win against Schalke in any of their last five encounters in all competitions. And though they are coming on the back of an excellent run of four back to back wins in the Bundesliga, Schalke’s home advantage makes it an evenly balanced encounter.
And the Hard Tackles takes a look, as two of the powerhouses of German football battle it out at the Veltins Arena on Saturday.
Team news & tactics
Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco will have huge decisions to make this weekend amid a long injury list that has seen four of his attackers ruled out with injuries, including Mark Uth and Franco Di Santo.
The former St. Pauli boss will stick to his preferred three-man backline consisting of Benjamin Stambouli, Salif Sane and Matija Nastasic. All of these three defenders will need to improve their performances, however, having conceded eight goals in the last four matches.
Nabil Bentaleb will be tasked with the responsibility of leading the Schalke midfield. The former Tottenham star is the club’s leading goalscorer this season with three goals. He will be deployed alongside Sebastian Rudy at the base of Schalke’s 3-4-3.
Daniel Caligiuri and Bastian Oczipka will occupy the wingback roles, though they might be in for a tough time in dealing with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus.
Amine Harit will be operating as the lone attacking midfielder, just behind two main strikers in Guido Burgstaller and Yevhen Konoplyanka. Both of these forwards have underperformed in the league this season and will be desperate to find the back of the net this weekend.
Probable lineup (3-4-3): Fahrmann; Stambouli, Sane, Nastasic; Caligiuri, Bentaleb, Rudy, Oczipka; Harit; Burgstaller, Konoplyanka.
Mario Gotze could once again start as the lone forward up front, seeing how successful Paco Alcacer has been when deployed from the bench. The German international will operate as the false nine, teaming up with the likes of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Jacob-Bruun Larsen in the final third.
Lucien Favre will resort to his trusted midfield duo of Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel, both of whom could play a crucial role in preventing the Schalke midfield get a hold of proceedings. Delaney, in particular, was influential against Freiburg and his work ethic will be important against the flair of Bentaleb.
In defence, Manuel Akanji is expected to return to the starting lineup after missing out versus Freiburg last weekend. The Swiss international will partner Abdou Diallo at the heart of the Dortmund defence.
Lukasz Piszczek and Achraf Hakimi should occupy the fullback slots. Hakimi’s pace fused with Piszczek’s vast experience in a perfect combination and has served Dortmund well so far this season. But, they could be facing a stern against the Schalke wingbacks this weekend.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Akanji, Diallo, Hakimi; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Bruun Larsen; Gotze.
- Borussia Dortmund have scored at least 2 goals in 8 of their last 9 matches.
- Dortmund are yet to defeat Schalke in any of their past five meetings in all competitions.
- Dortmund’s Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus, together, have scored more goals than Schalke as a whole this season.
- Schalke have tasted only one defeat in their last five matches.
- Schalke have fired off as many shots on goal as Dortmund this season (167), but have scored just 14 to BVB’s 37.
Player to watch
This will be a special game for Marco Reus as he will captain a Revierderby for the first time in his career. And speaking ahead of the game, the German international has admitted that he’s looking forward to it as Dortmund seek their fifth successive win in the league.
Reus will operate as the attacking midfielder in a free-flowing Dortmund attack, where his excellent vision and quick interplay with his teammates could cause Schalke a lot of problems.
The Dortmund youth graduate has been involved in 11 goals in 12 matches – his best start to a Bundesliga season and very few would bet against him replicating his performance against the Royal Blues this weekend.
FC Schalke 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund are in spectacular form at the moment but performing at the Veltins Arena is a challenge for any team in the world and considering their poor record at this very stadium, we can expect the Black and Yellow to play out an intense 1-1 with their arch-rivals this weekend.