Derby, rivalry…whatever you want to call big matchups between two clubs in close proximity to each other, the mere mention of the words gets the blood boiling and the ears perking up to take a closer look.
When talking about Germany’s Bundesliga there is but one derby that tops them all — the Revierderby.
That’s right, we’re talking about Borussia Dortmund versus Schalke 04, and it’s a match most would say is the only rivalry that matters in the whole of the country.
However, this match is about much more than simple bragging rights over your rival. No, this is about European aspirations for the upcoming season (and the nice money that comes with such a feat).
See, Schalke went out and won the first match of the season 2-1, putting them ahead its rivals back in matchday six and things have never been the same for either club.
The Royal Blues haven’t looked back since, ascending from 10th after the win in the first match between the rival clubs to currently sitting fourth ahead of Saturday morning’s clash.
On the other hand, Dortmund went in to an absolute free fall after that loss — slipping from eighth before the match to a low point of 18th and in danger of being relegated.
However, BVB have had a change of form since the break in action and have won the last three matches to climb to 12th and pretty clear of the relegation zone. It also means that being in form has Dortmund eight points away from European spots and 10 points off of Schalke 04.
Making the three-match win streak even more worrisome for the Royal Blues is the fact that Dortmund have beaten Augsburg (currently 5th in the table) and Mainz 05 (sitting right above BVB in the table) as part of that
Still, looking a bit further back and there are four losses in the last 10 matches for Dortmund and that’s all you need to know as to why one of the biggest names in German soccer is struggling nearer the bottom than the top of the table.
As for Schalke, they come in to the match winning five and drawing three of the last 10 matches on their own. Such is the form of a team looking to consolidate their European position and attempt to reach back for the Champions League just above them.
This will also be the first match in the Revierderby for current Schalke manager Roberto Di Matteo, and that is something to keep an eye on for the match. Derby’s are always tricky affairs for managers and a loss here would put Dortmund well within striking distance down the final stretch of league play.
Given the fact that Schalke are likely out of the Champions League after a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of their round of 16 tie, this game is make or break for the hopes of more Champions League play next season.
As for what this match is really like, you know since Bundesliga soccer has gone the way of the dinosaurs on American TV…here’s a great piece on the passion, pageantry and feeling behind the derby:
It’s just a shame that no one in the United States will be able to see such a monumental clash between two of the historic giants of German soccer and two teams with a lot to play for this season too.
Ahhh, can’t wait to see Fox Sports carrying the league next season, right? Oh wait….Fox will probably screw that up too.