Borussia Dortmund head to neighbours Schalke for Sunday’s high-profile Bundesliga clash still smarting after their arch rivals came from four-goals down last time in the ‘Ruhr derby of the century’.
“We are really up for it, especially when you remember the home game,” said Dortmund’s sports director Michael Zorc before the 174th derby in Gelsenkirchen. Dortmund are still sore after Schalke scored four unanswered second-half goals in a frenetic 4-4 draw at Borussia’s Signal Iduna Park last November.
Brazil defender Naldo dramatically equalised with a 94th-minute header just before the final whistle to cap a remarkable fight back. “If the game had gone on a minute longer, we would have probably conceded the next goal,” admitted goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller after Dortmund’s defence collapsed.
“I was glad when the referee whistled, it was a relief for us. I came off feeling ashamed.” The match was dubbed the ‘Ruhr derby of the century’ because no team had ever previously came from 4-0 down in the fixture’s 92-year history. Bragging rights aside, key Bundesliga points are up for grabs in Sunday’s derby.
Bayern Munich, the confirmed champions, are 20 points clear of Schalke in the table, but Dortmund are a point behind in third. They can leap-frog the Royal Blues into second place with a win in Gelsenkirchen. Schalke took second-place from Dortmund just over a month ago and tensions are running high between the clubs.
Only 36 kilometres (22 miles) separate them and police in Gelsenkirchen are on high alert with no love lost in one of European football’s fiercest derbies. “This isn’t just a game like any other you can feel the tension,” said Schalke striker Guido Burgstaller.
For Dortmund, the goal is simple, “if we win, we move past Schalke” said midfielder Nuri Sahin. The top game on Saturday sees Bayern host Borussia Moenchengladbach at the Allianz Arena with one eye on next Tuesday’s German Cup semi-final at Leverkusen.
Having reached the Champions League semi-finals in mid-week, Bayern are now the only European team left still in contention for the treble this season. Head coach Jupp Heynckes is likely to rotate his squad against Gladbach. Bayern are waiting to see how Javi Martinez recovers from a bruised his knee.
James Rodriguez also hurt his thigh in Wednesday’s draw at home to Sevillla which put Bayern into the last four in Europe. Behind Bayern, Schalke have the second best defence in the league, conceding 33 goals to Munich’s 21.
The Royal Blues’ back four will be tested by Michy Batshuayi, who has scored seven goals in nine league games since joining Dortmund on loan from Chelsea. Borussia hope to have Marco Reus running their attack with the Germany star having scored six goals in 12 games against Schalke.
The Royal Blues are smarting from last weekend’s shock 3-2 defeat at Hamburg, who moved off the bottom of the table with their first league win since November.
Dortmund have had the better of recent derbies and have not lost any of their last five clashes with Schalke, but the last three encounters were draws.
Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco described it as ‘hell’ being 4-0 down at Dortmund and wants no repeat at home. “I still get goosebumps when I think about it,” said Burgstaller, who scored Schalke’s first goal in the fight back. “We definitely don’t want to be 4-0 down again at half-time.” -AFP