There’s no replacement for a local derby. Sure, there can be heat between title contenders in Europe and in playoff chasers in the United States, but nothing beats a good ol’ fashioned crosstown rivalry. It’s the kind that divides households, schools, neighborhoods, and entire cities. I just finished watching an exhilarating iteration of the Subway Series between the New York Mets and New York Yankees, one of the most electric non-championship sporting events I’ve ever witnessed. The tension and the drama as the two teams exchanged home runs were made ten times more exhilarating by the fans in the crowd, many of whom barely sat over the four hour game, jawing at each other constantly and trying to chant over one another. It made me miss living in the NYC area, and it made me wish more than anything that I could be there among the crowd.
Why do I bring this up in a Borussia Dortmund blog? It’s simple. As you all know, BVB’s local arch-rivals, Schalke 04, are in the 2. Bundesliga because they were relegated from the top tier of German football last season. This means that barring a fortunate draw in the DFB-Pokal, there will be no Revierderby this season. As somebody who lives in the USA, I’ve never had the fortune to experience one for myself, but I’ve followed the team long enough that despite the club’s rivalries with Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, nothing matches the hatred that the two Ruhr clubs have for one another.
Schalke have been decent-ish to start the season, currently sitting tied for 4th with St. Pauli, Dynamo Dresden, and Nürnberg in the 2. Bundesliga.
A few weeks ago, Schalke dealt USMNT forward Matthew Hoppe to Mallorca in La Liga for a transfer fee of a few million euros, so you no longer need to worry about the possibility of an American being successful in Gelsenkirchen. They also loaned arguably their best player, Amine Harit, to Olympique Marseille in Ligue 1. All these moves are designed to help Schalke balance their finances after a string of bad financial decisions, combined with the COVID pandemic, led them within spitting distance of bankruptcy.
Their top scorer is the 33-year-old Simon Terrodde, who leads the entire 2. Bundesliga in goals with an impressive tally of seven goals in only six appearances. Terrodde might be old, but he has a long history of goalscoring in the 2. Bundesliga, so expect him to continue to help Schalke this season. His goal this weekend helped Schalke defeat Paderborn 1-0, their second win in a row and third win of the season.
Schalke will be a long-shot to make it to the Bundesliga again this season, but to me, it’s nice to see that they’ve righted the ship somewhat. I genuinely miss the Revierderby, and I think having Schalke in the Bundesliga is good for Borussia Dortmund just as much as it’s good for Schalke. I’ll be sure to check in on them from time to time as the season moves on, and I encourage you all to do the same.