It doesn’t get any better than Derek Rae’s voice echoing over our screens exclaiming, “Borussia Dortmund versus Schalke, the mother of all derbies.” That’s what we have this Saturday as Borussia Dortmund make the short trip to Gelsenkirchen to take on hated rivals FC Schalke 04.
Borussia Dortmund come into this match fresh off a really great showing in the UEFA Champions League, having taken a 3-2 advantage back home against Sevilla FC. While the first goal from the Spanish side was lucky, the second was another set piece late on which does leave a bad taste lingering with BVB players and supporters alike. However, that should not take everything away from what was a mostly disciplined performance away from home against a top side in Europe. Die Schwarzgelben’s Bundesliga form has not quite been as great, as Dortmund enter the Revierderby in sixth place and in desperate needs of points to climb back into the race for top four.
Thomas Meunier made his return to the team midweek, and Thorgan Hazard is expected to make his return to the matchday squad; Toto should be a bench option on Saturday. Thomas Delaney was absent against Sevilla but should be available once again this weekend after he and his wife welcomed their new baby girl to the BVB family. Dan-Axel Zagadou, Marcel Schmelzer, Axel Witsel and Roman Burki remain out with injuries still. Here is how I see Edin Terzic setting up the team for this match:
The only change I expect is Thomas Meunier coming in for Mateu Morey at right-back. I don’t think Morey was bad against Sevilla, but he has not taken his chance to prove himself a starter in this team. Meunier has just returned, but he is much more solid defensively than Morey and that might weigh on Terzic’s mind heading into a heated rivalry match like this one. Mahmoud Dahoud was masterful mid-week and he simply must keep his place as should Jude Bellingham and Emre Can to round out the midfield as Edin Terzic should stick to this new 4-3-3. An attacking trident of Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, and Marco Reus should continue as there really isn’t anyone pushing them out of the lineup currently. Three points appear sure to be had for BVB as Schalke are rock bottom of the table on only nine points for the season.
Schalke were busy in the January transfer market trying to bring in players to make a run and stave off relegation, but it just hasn’t happened for them. Sead Kolasinac has come back from Arsenal who was later joined by fellow Gunners outcast Shkodran Mustafi, and former fan favorite Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has returned to the club. Even club malcontent Nabil Bentaleb has re-joined the first team after what seemed to be his fourth suspension imposed by the club.
Nine points adrift of the Bundesliga playoff spot, Schalke have had some good news as of late as 19 year-old American striker Matthew Hoppe has done very well since being promoted to the first team. Hoppe exploded onto the scene in January with a surprise hat-trick in Schalke’s only league win at home against TSG Hoffenheim on matchday 15 on January 9th. The young American striker followed up that performance with a goal in each of the next two matches, unfortunately both in losing efforts. The goals have since dried up for the young American, as he hasn’t scored since January 20th. However, the American will have to play as Schalke sport several injuries at striker including Mark Uth, Gonzalo Paciencia, and the aforementioned Huntelaar. Can Hoppe find a way past a leaky Dortmund defense? Here is how I expect Schalke lining up at home against their rivals:
I expect Schalke to field the same lineup they did against FC Union Berlin where they played out to a 0-0 draw. While there are conflicting reports, Matija Nastasic looks to be out injured which means Knappenschmiede academy product Malik Thiaw should continue to partner Mustafi at the back with Kolasinac and Timo Becker playing as the full-backs. Hoppe should continue to lead the line with playmaker Amine Harit cutting in off the left and the Brazilian William playing as a winger on the right. Salif Sane, Steven Skrzybski, and Frederik Ronnow are also out of the derby for Die Kongisblauen.
I fully expect Borussia Dortmund to claim all three points against the hosts this weekend. Schalke have been doing a much better job defensively than they had at the beginning of the Bundesliga campaign, but they just do not possess enough of a threat to challenge BVB for a full 90 minutes. If Dortmund continue with this balanced 4-3-3, the defense will be improved while simultaneously giving more freedom to Dahoud and Bellingham to assist the attack. A comprehensive win by Dortmund over their bitter rivals will cement Schalke at the bottom of the table for a quite a while, and it doesn’t appear that we will see this fixture in the league next season. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen for too long, because this is the best fixture the Bundesliga boasts.
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