Its time for this years home edition of the Revierderby. BVB have 4 games to play in the Bundesliga and are 1 point behind Bayern, so its safe to say this is a must win. Despite Schalke being a steaming pile of hot garbage this year (die Königsblauen have less points than games played this season), form is pushed aside as both teams put their best foot forward in the derby. With the way Dortmund has played this half of the year, holding on for dear life against teams of inferior quality, this may be an especially nervy affair. Furthermore, the injury list mounts, with Zagadou being confirmed out for the game, and Wolf and Pizczcek are both doubtful.
For Dortmund’s ideal lineup, few changes from last week should be expected. An Akanji-Weigl partnership would come recommended, Diallo will almost certainly play at the fullback position, while Toprak has barely touched the pitch this season. For fullbacks, there is only hope that Wolf is makes a return this weekend. If not, Favre will almost certainly rotate Akanji into the right back position, with Toprak taking his place at the heart of the backline - something that certainly does not inspire confidence against physical forwards like Burgstaller and Embolo. While Schmelzer is almost certainly to remain in his role as cheerleader in the second half of the season, playing only an impressive 33 minutes during the Rückrunde. With the rest of the squad, and the lack of injuries - in start contrast to the backline - the potential lineup is easy to predict. Delaney-Witsel, Sancho-Reus-Raph, Gotze up top, with the potential of Favre mixing it up with Bruun Larsen, Pulisic, or Alcacer in the front four. This lineup did great against Freiburg, they finally looked like they were in control and dealt well when a team was on the front foot against them. Schalke are going to have their chances, its crucial BVB can respond to them and not get played off the field.
As for who we have to worry about on Schalke, the list isn’t very long. Nabil Bentaleb leads the teams in goals scored, with 12 goals, 8 of them coming from penalties. The biggest thing Dortmund must watch for this game is giving up set pieces to 04. Not only has Favre’s side been vulnerable at defending them, but Schalke scored almost half of their goals last season from non-open play situations last season. Add in the threat of Burgstaller and Embolo against Weigl in the middle of defense, and they pose a reasonable threat if underestimated.
Derbys are always complicated affairs. Injuries, as well as Favre’s insistence on certain tactical shapes, complicate the outlook of this game. But Schalke’s poor performances, lack of tactical identity, and overall lack of talent make this game seem rather one sided from before the first whistle. Prior derbies would expect a cagey and physical affair until the latter stages of the match.
Prediciton - Schalke : Dortmund (1:3)
What do you think Dortmund’s best lineup for this game? What is your predicted scoreline?