Borussia Dortmund gear up for the iconic Revierderby on Saturday as they take on arch-rivals FC Schalke at the Veltins Arena.
The Bundesliga braces itself for one of the biggest derbies in European football as FC Schalke welcome Borussia Dortmund at the Veltins Arena on Saturday, in what known as the Revierderby.
While this derby usually associates two of the giants of German football who always compete higher up the table, things have been a little different this year. The hosts Schalke are at the bottom of the Bundesliga table with nine points on the board – making them one of the worst-performing teams in Europe’s top five leagues.
Meanwhile, their arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund are also underperforming at sixth place with just 33 points – a far cry from their initial season expectations of competing for the title. It seems even a finish inside the top four could get difficult as they are currently trailing fourth-placed Wolfsburg by six points heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.
The Black and Yellows are hoping to capitalise on a midweek win over Sevilla in the Champions League, although past records and form very rarely matter in a derby often filled with emotion and excitement even without the fans at the iconic Veltins Arena.
One thing is for certain – Schalke have improved a lot since their 3-0 battering in the reverse fixture and given Dortmund’s current form, this tie could be a lot more even than it looks, despite the massive disparity in league positions. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this Revierderby in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
The addition of experienced operators like Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi is yet to yield points for the Konigsblauen but it has certainly made them more competent, especially in the defensive unit. They most notably held high-flying Union Berlin to a goalless draw in their last game – allowing only three shots on target.
A sturdy, deep defensive backline could once again be on the agenda for Christian Gross’ men. They will look to frustrate the Dortmund attackers, allowing very little space in between the lines.
The BVB attack looked very good against Sevilla because the Spanish side allowed the ball-carriers to dictate the play. So the onus will be on the two midfielders in Benjamin Stambouli and Nabil Bentaleb to prevent a similar scenario. The more defence-minded right midfielder in William should also play a key role in Schalke’s second line of press, hoping to frustrate the Dortmund full-back and the winger.
Meanwhile, in attack, the Royal Blues do have problems. They had failed to amass even a single shot on target against Union, with their top scorer Matthew Hoppe, who is on the radars of several English bigwigs, is yet to score in any of the last five matches. The club has also been unfortunate with the injury of Klaas Jan-Huntelaar after the veteran striker returned from Ajax in January.
Hence, Hoppe should once again lead the line for S04 this weekend, with additional support from Suat Serdar and Amine Harit. Gross does not any too many alternatives, with Benito Raman the only other established forward available.
Probable Lineups (4-2-3-1): Fahrmann; Becker, Mustafi, Nastasic, Kolasinac; Stambouli, Bentaleb; William, Serdar, Harit; Hoppe
Edin Terzic rested both Julian Brandt and Giovanni Reyna in the midweek game, giving Mahmoud Dahoud a rare opportunity. The midfielder didn’t disappoint either, scoring a brilliant goal from outside the box. The performance might just get him the nod ahead of Reyna as Dortmund look to continue with the 4-3-2-1 that was quite successful.
MO DAHOUD 🚀
What a way to score your first Champions League goal
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 17, 2021
Jude Bellingham and Dahoud should effectively work as the ball-carriers in half-spaces, making BVB much more productive going forward, especially with Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho operating in the final third. The duo shares an excellent connection with Erling Haaland in the number nine role, and Terzic will hope that this changed setup could work its magic in the Bundesliga as well.
There might not be any change in the holding midfield position either, with Emre Can retaining his place in the side despite the availability of Thomas Delaney while Axel Witsel is out with a long-term injury.
Speaking of injuries, Thomas Meunier made a welcome comeback against Sevilla in midweek. The Belgian should return to his preferred right-back solidifying a Dortmund backline that looked rather vulnerable with Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji operating at its core.
Elsewhere, Raphael Guerreiro could continue at left-back, playing a key role in Dortmund’s chance-creation thanks to his ability to drive forward with the ball, combined with his excellent understanding with Sancho.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Hitz; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Delaney, Dahoud; Sancho, Reus; Haaland
- Matthew Hoppe is Schalke’s five-goal top scorer, despite only making his Bundesliga debut at the end of November.
- The Royal Blues have claimed more points in eight matches under Christian Gross (five) than in their previous 12 (four).
- This will be the 98th Revierderby of the Bundesliga era. Schalke have won 32 to Dortmund’s 35 (30 draws).
- Marco Reus is set to make his 300th Bundesliga appearance. To date, he has produced 130 goals and 84 assists.
- Borussia Dortmund have lost three successive away games for the first time in six years, but are unbeaten in five at home under Edin Terzic (W3, D2)
Player to Watch
Erling Haaland once again became the main talking point in European football after netting a brace against Sevilla in midweek, helping Borussia Dortmund seal a 3-2 victory.
Although his form in the Bundesliga has been a tad underwhelming of late, he has scored as many league goals in 2020/21 as the entire Schalke team (15). In addition, his two goals in midweek should boost the confidence of the Norwegian starlet, who could make life difficult for the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Matija Nastasic, especially with his pace and strength.
Haaland’s seemingly telepathic combination play with Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho is also something Schalke will need to be aware of if they are to salvage anything from this game.
FC Schalke 0-2 Borussia Dortmund
Despite their recent improvements, this Schalke defence is tailor-made for Dortmund to exploit. The Royal Blues have already conceded more goals from counter-attacks than any other team in the league, which is where the pace and quick approach play of Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Erling Haaland could spread their wings.
The hosts are unlikely to cause any problems either for a Dortmund backline strengthened by the return of Thomas Meunier. Hence, we are expecting a rather comfortable 2-0 win for the Black and Yellows in this 99th Bundesliga rendition of the Revierderby.