What: German Bundesliga
Who: Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke
When: Saturday 20th October, 2012, at 14:30 UK Time
Where: Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, Germany
Catch-up Time for Dortmund
Germany’s biggest local derby takes place in the Ruhr valley as champions Borussia Dortmund prepare to welcome Schalke to the Westfalenstadion. The two enjoy a fierce rivalry, the enmity between the two perhaps summed up best by the words of Dortmund’s Kevin Grosskreutz, who when asked what he would do if his son wanted to support Schalke, responded that he would probably have to consider putting him up for adoption.
Unusually of late, Dortmund come into this game behind Schalke, with both battling to keep in touch with a Bayern Munich side who have made a stunning start to the season. Bayern Munich’s 100 per cent record after seven matches means that they already have a nine point lead over Dortmund, and so Jurgen Klopp’s team have plenty of catching up to do.
If the champions can beat Schalke, it will be the first time they have won three successive games against their rivals since the 1960s. But Dortmund will have to do so the hard way, with injuries causing them uncertainty in the build-up. Mats Hummels looks likely to return from his knock, whilst Sven Bender and Ilkay Gundogan are also hoping to be ready for Klopp to call upon them. But Mario Gotze will miss out, Polish winger Jakub Blaszczykowski will not be fit, while fellow Poles Lukasz Piszczek and Robert Lewandowski both had to play 24 hours later than planned against England in midweek for their country.
Keeping Ahead of the Neighbours
For Schalke, the motivation to come out on top in this game will be doubled. It may be only October, but a draw or defeat could give Dortmund too much to do over the remainder of the season to catch Bayern Munich. A win for Schalke would also give them the chance to stake their claim to be the Bavarians’ main Bundesliga title rivals this year.
Like Dortmund, Schalke are also in the middle of a Champions League campaign and this match comes just before their crucial double header with Arsenal. It is unlikely they will allow themselves to be distracted by that upcoming clash though and it has been a useful start to the season for coach Huub Stevens, whose team are yet to lose away from home.
But Schalke have not enjoyed derby matches of late, having not won since 2010. The Ruhr giants have also lost their only real test so far in the league, at home to Bayern Munich, and a trip to Dortmund will be a similarly difficult challenge to overcome. Nonetheless, with Jefferson Farfan and Ibrahim Afellay behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke have a potent attack which has been carving opponents apart in the Bundesliga of late and will certainly pose problems for the reigning champions.
Borussia Dortmund 5-0 Gladbach (29/09; Bundesliga)
Manchester City 1-1 Borussia Dortmund (03/10; Champions League)
Hannover 1-1 Borussia Dortmund (07/10; Bundesliga)
Fortuna Dusseldorf 2-2 Schalke (28/09; Bundesliga)
Schalke 2-2 Montpellier (03/10; Champions League)
Schalke 3-0 Wolfsburg (06/10; Bundesliga)
Borussia Dortmund: Marcel Schmelze (doubt); Ilkay Gundogan (doubt); Jakub Blaszczykowski; Mario Gotze
Schalke: Julian Draxler; Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Players to watch
Borussia Dortmund – Marco Reus: Reus has settled in seamlessly at Dortmund after moving from Borussia Monchengladbach at the end of last season. He looks like one of the best signings of the summer in Europe, with the forward showing his goalscoring prowess with four goals in a Dortmund shirt, including a brilliant strike against his former team at the end of September. Reus has been in similarly brilliant form for Germany, while he caused English champions Manchester City all kinds of problems in the Champions League. Schalke will have to control the skilful and gifted Reus if they are to have a chance here.
Schalke – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: Last season’s top scorer in the Bundesliga has begun the new season in similarly devastating form. No player has been involved directly in as many Bundesliga goals this calendar year as Huntelaar, who has scored 17 and set up eight. Ironically, the next best tally belongs to Dortmund’s Reus. This season could be his last in Germany though, with his contract coming to an end and talks on a new deal stalling. Keeping scoring will only increase his options.
Borussia Dortmund will be determined to put one over on their rivals and haul themselves above Schalke. The attacking talents of Reus and Lewandowski will cause Stevens’ side all kinds of problems with their movement and fast interplay. Dortmund will look to impose their high pressing style on Schalke, but it will be interesting to see what effect a host of returning players and international duty has on them.
Schalke’s midfield pairing of Lewis Holtby and Roman Neustadter have been impressive this season and the battle between the duo and Dortmund’s Sebastian Kehl and either Gundogan or Grosskreutz will be a key part of this match. Schalke should be a real threat on the counter attack, but may find it hard to contain Dortmund if their movement is at its best. Klopp’s side have scored for fun at home often so far this season and that should continue here. Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Schalke.
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