Borussia Dortmund are set to travel 32 kilometers across the Ruhr region of Germany to Veltins-Arena to face FC Shalke 04 at home in the highly anticipated, 148th edition, of the Revierderby this Sunday.
This rückrunde's revierderby takes place at a hazardous time for both clubs, as unexpected results in resent fixtures has piled the on pressure.
On one hand, with much more to lose, is Schalke. The Royal Blues dropped from fourth to seventh in the Bundesliga table last weekend with a crushing 3-0 defeat to league young-ins FC Ingolstadt.
"I am going to assume that everyone knows what [this game] is, because we do not need extra motivation," said Schalke coach André Breitenreiter in his pre-match press conference."Everyone knows that we have delivered a s*** performance in Ingolstadt. This must be incentive enough."
Although Schalke are one point off of European qualification spots, and third place Hertha BSC dropped two points to Hannover 96 in yesterday's match, they are still four points off of a Champions League place, with only six matches left to play. Not only that, but now S04 are in a position where they are depending on the three teams between them and third place (Borussia Monchengladbach, Mainz, and Bayer Leverkusen) to drop points, while their next two fixtures are against first place Bayern Munich and fourth-place Leverkusen.
On the other side of the Ruhr, BVB must compose themselves to side-step a particularly delicate situation, as Sunday's game falls in between their Europa League tie with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool. The reds pulled off a slight upset in Thursday's game at Signal-Iduna-Park , as the home team conceded an important away goal in the first-half.
Thomas Tuchel's man are still favorites to lift the trophy in May, but slightly less so then before, as Liverpool have got their foot in the door and play at Anfield in next week's return leg. It will important for Dortmund to regain and retain momentum for the match and their chances at silverware this season.
"Maybe it's a good thing the derby is sandwiched between Liverpool," said Tuchel in his pre-match conference this morning, "It might help us to approach the game with calmness."
A big question mark still remains over Dortmund's rotation though, as Tuchel has said to expect some players to be rested for next week's Liverpool game. All eyes will turn to midefielder Ilkay Gundogan, who has returned to training earlier this week and will likely make an appearance. Gundogan was sorely missed on Thursday, and has been every time he is absent from BVB's match day squad as his ability to relive pressure in the midfield is essential to Dortmund's build-up. Expect a shake-up in Dortmund's midfield overall as Tuchel may look to rest Julian Wiegl and might throw starting opportunities to Shinji Kagawa or American starlet Christian Pulisic, who impressed as a substitute during Thursday's match.
Schalke's line-up should be more straight forward, as they have had some disappointing individual performances recently from thier forwards and are dealing with some important injuries as well. Midfielder Leon Goretzka, was subbed off with a shoulder injury during Schalke's loss to Ingolstadt, and as an important cog in S04's midfield Breitenreiter will have to choose his options carefully.
This revierderby will reap huge rewards for its winner, aside from the usual romance and prestige that comes with the win, it will have important ramifications for each team's season going forward.