FC Schalke will look to derail Borussia Dortmund’s bid to win the Bundesliga title as we brace ourselves for the Revierderby on Saturday.
We are already in the final phase of this season’s Bundesliga but with just four games remaining, the title race is still open as Bayern Munich lead the table with a meagre one-point lead over Borussia Dortmund.
However, the Bavarians will have an excellent chance of extending their lead this weekend as Dortmund brace themselves for a tricky encounter against their arch-rivals FC Schalke in the Revierderby, which is considered as the mother of all derbies in the German top-flight.
The hosts are coming on the back of a remarkable 4-0 win over Freiburg in the last game. They were also triumphant in the reverse fixture back in December, when a late second-half goal from Jadon Sancho helped the Black and Yellows secure a narrow 2-1 victory.
Therefore, Schalke will seek retribution as they travel to Dortmund on Saturday, although their dipping form could be a cause for concern for head coach Huub Stevens. In fact, the Royal Blues have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league, having secured only 27 points from 30 matches this season.
They have won just once in their last 14 matches in all competitions and have already conceded 10 goals in their last four, which could a worry especially against a Dortmund side who have the second best offensive record in the league.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides ahead of the highly-anticipated Revierderby this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Marius Wolf sustained an injury against Freiburg last weekend and remains a doubt in this one. He could join Lukasz Piszczek and Achraf Hakimi in Dortmund’s list of injury-related absentees.
However, we expect Wolf to return to full fitness in time, especially after how he carried on despite taking a knock. Therefore, he should fill in at right-back, while Abdou Diallo will retain his place on the opposite flank, looking to ease Dortmund’s build-up from the back.
Julian Weigl, meanwhile, is likely to get the nod ahead of Dan-Axel Zagadou once again at centre-back. The German international will be partnered by Manuel Akanji at the heart of Dortmund’s four-man backline, although the Swiss international could feature at right-back, should Wolf miss out.
Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney are guaranteed starters in central midfield while Marco Reus will operate in the number ten role, as usual. Reus will be partnered by Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro in the final third. Their quick combination play could provide some serious trouble for the Schalke defenders.
And finally, the Dortmund attack will be led by Mario Gotze, who could once again get the nod ahead of Paco Alcacer. However, we could expect the Spaniard to feature sometime during the second-half.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Wolf, Weigl, Akanji, Diallo; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Guerreiro; Gotze
Schalke are likely to stick with the same back-three used in the defeat to Hoffenheim last weekend, meaning the defensive trifecta of Benjamin Stambouli, Matija Nastasic and Salif Sane will all retain their place in the starting lineup.
However, coach Stevens will have to deal with injuries to a host of star players including Alessandro Schopf, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Mark Uth, while Nabil Bentaleb has been sent to train with the U23s on disciplinary grounds. Therefore, we could expect a few changes, especially in midfield where Omar Mascarell could partner Sebastian Rudy in the double-pivot.
Elsewhere, Schopf’s absence means Daniel Caligiuri will operate on the right wing-back slot, while Bastian Oczipka could make his return to the starting eleven by featuring on the opposite flank. His vision and technical prowess could be important in breaking down the Dortmund defence.
Weston McKennie, on the other hand, appeared on the flanks in the last game but could revert to an attacking midfield role, where he will look to exert pressure on the Dortmund backline.
He will be supported by the offensive duo of Guido Burgstaller and Breel Embolo, whose pace and dynamism will give Schalke the upper hand in counter-attacking situations.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Nubel; Stambouli, Sane, Nastasic; Caligiuri, Rudy, Mascarell; Oczipka; McKennie; Embolo, Burgstaller
- This will be the 94th meeting in Bundesliga between Dortmund and Schalke – there has never been as big a points difference between the two sides going into a Bundesliga game as there is currently. (BVB 42 points ahead of S04)
- On ten occasions the Revierderby ended in a 0-0 draw, more often than any other pairing in the league.
- The last time Dortmund won both Revierderbies in one season was in 2011-12; the Black and Yellows also ended up winning the title that year.
- Dortmund’s record at home against Schalke: W20 D15 L11
- Borussia Dortmund are undefeated in their last 5 home matches against Schalke in all competitions.
Player to Watch
Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel has garnered a lot of attention since the turn of the year, having made a plethora of saves throughout the course of the Ruckrunde so far.
As a result, the 22-year-old has emerged as the first-choice keeper for Die Knappen. Most importantly, however, his terrific performances in between the sticks have led to speculations linking him to a move to Bayern Munich in the summer. And the young keeper will have an excellent opportunity to make an impression this weekend, in what will be his first Revierderby.
With the hosts likely to exert a lot of pressure on the Schalke defence, the onus will be on Nubel to prevent the Black and Yellows from finding the back of the net, thus making him one of the players worth looking forward to.
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 FC Schalke 04
Borussia Dortmund have looked quite strong in the past few matches, especially after their embarrassing defeat to Bayern. And we expect the title aspirants to continue their stunning form against Schalke this weekend, although their susceptible backline could allow their arch-rivals to make the game more interesting. A 2-1 win for the hosts.