The mother of all derbies in Germany is set to take place this Saturday as Borussia Dortmund travel to Gelsenkirchen to face FC Schalke in the Revierderby.
This could be an important week for Borussia Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre. His job at the club has been under tight scrutiny after dropping too many points in the Bundesliga while recently slumping to a 2-0 defeat to Inter Milan in the Champions League.
Losing the Revierderby, which is considered by many, as the greatest derby in Germany, therefore, might result in the sacking of the Swiss coach. Besides, it would also lead Dortmund towards further mediocrity, having already dropped nine points in just eight matches.
As for Schalke, their progress under David Wagner has come to a halt after their 3-1 win over RB Leipzig. The Royal Blues are winless in their last two league games, one of which ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to TSG Hoffenheim.
That being said, history does not really matter in this Revierderby, and the club from Gelsenkirchen always tend to perform well against their bitter rivals. Therefore, they will be confident of their chances against Dortmund and might even be favourites to seal all three points.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides ahead of this highly-anticipated derby this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Weston McKennie is a doubt heading into this game due to a knock. His potential absence means Omar Mascarell could retain his role in central midfield, with Suat Serdar likely to return to the team after missing out against Hoffenheim with a strain. These two players will form the double-pivot in Schalke’s expected 4-2-3-1.
It won’t be surprising to see the hosts pushing forward, which makes Daniel Caligiuri an important cog in the Schalke attack. The ex-Wolfsburg star will feature on the right flank, with Alessandro Schopf operating on the opposite flank. His tenacity and work-rate could be important as the Royal Blues look to breach the vulnerable Dortmund backline.
Amine Harit, meanwhile, will be desperate to get onto the scoreline. He will be deployed as the number ten, though he is yet to score a goal or register an assist in his last two matches. The attack, meanwhile, will be led by Guido Burgstaller.
Like his predecessors, Wagner could employ a deep defensive block against Dortmund. That means starting with Salif Sane, ahead of Matija Nastasic would be a wiser decision. Benjamin Stambouli will partner the ex-Hannover defender at the heart of Schalke’s four-man backline.
Elsewhere, Everton loanee Jonjoe Kenny and former Eintracht Frankfurt star Bastian Oczipka are expected to feature as full-backs, while Alexander Nubel will retain his place in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Nubel; Kenny, Stambouli, Sane, Oczipka; Serdar, Mascarell; Caligiuri, Harit, Schopf; Burgstaller
Dortmund fans will welcome the return of Jadon Sancho after he was suspended last weekend against Borussia Monchengladbach. He did, however, feature against Inter Milan in midweek and is a guaranteed starter this time as well, in the right-wing slot.
Marco Reus is a doubt, but we expect the German to shake off his cold. But, Paco Alcacer is ruled out, meaning Mario Gotze is likely to operate as a number nine if Favre reverts to a 4-2-3-1.
Raphael Guerreiro is expected to get the nod ahead of Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt in the additional creative slot. His ingenuity in the final third could be important if Schalke do defend deep.
Elsewhere, Nico Schulz was terrible against Inter Milan and might actually be replaced by Achraf Hakimi. That, in turn, will pave the way for Lukasz Piszczek to return to the side. His experience on the right-back slot could be key as the visitors look to remain solid at the back.
Mats Hummels will be playing in the Revierderby for the first time after returning to Dortmund. His presence at the backline, alongside Manuel Akanji will offer Dortmund a lot of solidity against a sharp-attacking Schalke side.
And finally, in midfield, the duo of Mascarell and Serdar will be opposed by the ever-present figures of Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Piszczek, Akanji, Hummels, Hakimi; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Guerreiro; Gotze
- Schalke missed the chance to go top of the standings in their last two matches, and in doing so the opportunity to face Dortmund in a home Revierderby as Bundesliga leaders for the first time since September 1971.
- Amine Harit is Schalke’s four-goal top scorer this season. The Moroccan has one goal and one assist to show for from his previous two Revierderby clashes.
- Schalke’s Daniel Caligiuri has registered four goals and two assists in his last four Revierderby meetings with Dortmund.
- Dortmund are fourth in the table after eight matches. Bayern Munich were fourth at the same stage last season and went on to win the league.
- Marco Reus has scored once in his eight Revierderby meetings to date. He is yet to find the net in seven career trips to Schalke but is Dortmund’s joint-top scorer this season along with Paco Alcacer on five goals.
Player to Watch
Caligiuri is one of the most important players for Schalke heading into this game. This is mainly due to his versatility and work-rate. Not to mention, his aggressive nature is ideal for Schalke if they look to play high press against Dortmund as they most often do.
Caligiuri likes to track back and help out the defence while he can also provide a lot of threat on the counter. And most importantly, he has the knack for scoring goals.
The 31-year-old notably scored Schalke’s third goal in their 4-4 draw with Dortmund two years ago. He also scored a brace in the 4-2 win at the Signal Iduna Park last season, which tarnished the Black and Yellows’ title hopes. Hence, the visitors will certainly need to be careful of Caligiuri this weekend.
Schalke 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
It won’t be surprising to see Schalke emerging as the victors given their opponent’s recent struggles as they have often failed to break opposition lines. In addition, the Royal Blues will have the home advantage, and we expect them to seal a narrow win against their arch-rivals tomorrow.