Sunday will mark the 141st time that Schalke 04 and Borrusia Dortmund meet. There is no bigger derby in Germany than the Revierderby. The match will have practical implications for both sides. Dortmund is trying to keep pace with Bayern Munich, while Schalke needs a win to jump back into the top four. But for both teams, and especially their supporters, none of that matters. This match is a must win.
The Revierderby, named for the Ruhr region that is home to both clubs, has become a huge event. Like most derbies it’s less about the three points, and more about the bragging rights. That said, for both teams there is a lot on the line.
Last season’s first encounter was a 2:1 win for Schalke at the Veltins-Arena. The result pleased many in Gelsenkirchen, as it pushed Dortmund further into crisis at the start of the season. It was only the second win of the season for Schalke, and they failed to make it back into the Champions League by season’s end. This year, Schalke sits in fifth place, level on points with Hertha Berlin, but trailing in goal difference. If Schalke is going to get back into the Champions League three points will be vital.
The young Leroy Sane has been outstanding for Schalke this season. He will feature in his first Revierderby on Sunday, and Schalke will look for him to supply an offensive spark. He’s appeared in all his sides Bundesliga matches this year, and scored five goals. His big moment this year came against Frankfurt, as he scored a special goal, beating most the Frankfurt’s defense before finishing in the bottom corner.
The second time these teams got together last year was a 3:0 win for Dortmund in Dortmund. They were climbing the table at that point after languishing at the bottom of the table for most of the first half. This year they sit in second place, five points behind Bayern at the start of match day 12. With Bayern beating Stuttgart on Saturday, Dortmund need three points to keep that gap from getting out of hand. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in that first meeting last season, and wrote headlines with his famous Batman and Robin celebration with Marco Reus. Aubameyang has 13 goals so far this Bundesliga season, and his form has been a big reason why Dortmund has started much stronger this year.
Both sides feature strong defenders. Mats Hummels of Dortmund and Schalke’s Joel Matip will be tasked with slowing down their opponents star players. Matip will have to keep a close eye on Aubameyang as the speedy forward try to get behind the young Matip. Whether or not these two center backs are able to cope with the pressure at the back could go a long way to deciding this match.
In the dugouts will be two newcomers to this famous derby. Thomas Tuchel and Andre Breitenreiter have enjoyed successful starts with their new clubs. Tuchel has obviously had the better start, with his Dortmund team going on a long winning streak to begin the year. He’ll be anxious to keep up his team’s winning ways and record his first derby win. As far as Breitenreiter is concerned, he has exceeded expectations in some respects, but Schalke still sits out of the top four. A win in Dortmund will increase his reputation, and get the royal blues back where they want to be.
Players to watch: Marco Reus and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar are in very different veins of form at the moment. Reus has seven goals so far and has formed a formidable partnership with Aubameyeng. His ability to come in from the left could cause Schalke a lot of headaches all afternoon. For Huntelaar, only three goals in the league is not good enough. But he’s shown an ability in the past to pop up when needed to score an important goal. Dortmund defenders can’t sleep on the Dutchman, unless they want him to find his form at the worst possible time.
Schalke leads the all time derby standings with 57 wins, 38 draws and 48 losses.