At 2.30pm on Saturday, Schalke 04 play host to their local and hated rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby – the derby of the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia.
These two sides head into the match having picked up 7 points from their last 3 Bundesliga games having both lost in gameweek 21.
For Schalke, this sequence began with a 2-2 draw at Mainz 05, before hanging on to a 2-1 victory at home to Fortuna Düsseldorf. Last weekend’s 4-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg was more convincing by Jens Keller’s side.
In between those fixtures, Schalke earned a 1-1 draw in Galatasaray on 20 February in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 match. Importantly for the Royal Blues, the second leg takes place this Tuesday.
For Borussia Dortmund, they bounced back from a 4-1 home thrashing at the hands of Hamburg to defeat Eintracht Frankfurt before drawing 1-1 in Gladbach. That draw came ahead of an important 1-0 defeat at Bayern Munich in the DFB Pokal the following Wednesday.
A comfortable 3-1 victory over Hannover 96 last Saturday was followed up with an impressive 3-0 thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
So Schalke head into this match having played fewer games over the past 3 weeks, but with an important Champions League tie on their minds 3 days later. Jürgen Klopp’s side have had two extra fixtures since 9 February but without a game until the following Saturday.
Both Christian Fuchs and Atsuto Uchida returned to full training during the week for Schalke 04 and both can be expected to start this fixture at full back.
Sead Kolasinac has started the last 3 games at left back in Fuchs’ absence, including a tough trip to Turkey, but this rival game may come too soon for the promising 19-year old, assuming Fuchs is fit enough to play.
Jermaine Jones is suspended in the centre of midfield, but the return of Uchida at right-back means that Marco Höger can push back into the holding midfield role left empty by Jones.
Centre-back Christoph Metzelder will be playing in his last Revierderby should he play on Saturday. The former Real Madrid defender has played a dozen of these games before, but for the opposition when he played for Borussia Dortmund between 2000 and 2007.
Mats Hummels is expected to return in the centre of defence for Borussia Dortmund, replacing Felipe Santana to partner Neven Subotic. The highly-rated youngster hasn’t featured since being substituted at half-time in the draw at Gladbach.
Ilkay Gündogan’s partner in the centre of midfield will either be Sebastian Kehl (who is a doubt) or Nuri Sahin with Sven Bender being injured. Sahin has started just once following his return on loan in January. That came in the 4-1 defeat by HSV and has played a total of just 135 Bundesliga minutes this season.
Robert Lewandowski returned from suspension last weekend to bag a brace.
20/10/2012 Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Schalke 04
14/04/2012 Schalke 04 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
26/11/2011 Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Schalke 04
Schalke 04 ended their two-game losing streak versus their rivals with a 2-1 victory at Dortmund earlier this season. Ibrahim Afellay and Marco Höger scored the goals that day as the Royal Blues held on for the final 35 minutes after Robert Lewandowski’s goal.
Expect this derby to be a battle on the pitch as they always are. Borussia Dortmund are in impressive form, and will be full of confidence after their Champions League success.
Borussia Dortmund have enough depth to replace Sven Bender so I don’t see his injury being a big deal for them.
The front four for the Bavarians are playing very well of late – Robert Lewandowski has 6 goals in 5 Bundesliga games in 2013. Marco Reus bagged a hat-trick three weeks ago and has put in a number of man of the match performances of late. Jakub Blaszczykowski has 5 goals in 2013 and will either be facing Christian Fuchs who is returning from injury or the inexperienced Sead Kolasinac. Mario Götze is tearing up defences as per usual.
Dortmund have kept just 2 clean sheets in their last 8 games in all competitions.
Julian Draxler is the man in form for Schalke recently, which includes a brace of goals and an assist last weekend. The 19-year old highly-tipped to be a star in the next few years is one to look out for in this match.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has just 6 Bundesliga goals this season and scored his first of 2013 in last weekend’s comprehensive 4-1 victory.
Michel Bastos has been a lively January acquisition, involved in the majority of Schalke’s play in front of the opposition goal, scoring 3 goals in his first 5 Bundesliga matches.
Schalke are without a clean sheet since their 0-0 draw at FC Augsburg on 26 January – their only so far in 2013 from 8 games.