Thomas Tuchel’s inconsistent Borussia Dortmund face a half an hour’s trip to Gelsenkirchen, where they face Schalke in what promises to be a competitive Ruhr Valley Derby on Saturday afternoon at the the Veltins Arena.
The last time both the sides had met each other at the Westfalenstadion, they had failed to provide the goals that the derby is associated with. It was a goalless draw, but things have changed now, when compared to the initial period of the season.
Schalke are currently ninth in the league, back with some chance of qualifying for Europe. They have 33 points, 13 points behind fourth-placed Dortmund and Markus Weinzerl’s men will look to trip down the gap with a win over Tuchel’s men on Saturday.
Royal Blues look to give Dortmund the blues
After a horror run early in the season, Schalke have recovered well and their recent form has helped them close the gap on the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt and Freiburg, who are currently above in the league standings.
Weinzerl’s men have lost only one game in the last five outings, winning twice and racking up just as many draws on the way. The defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach was certainly disappointing, but the wins over Schalke and Mainz have lifted the side into the upper half of the league, bringing in hopes of qualifying for Europe.
Despite the decent form, not winning games regularly against the sides around them has been a problem for Schalke, who have lost to Frankfurt, Koln, Hertha and Hoffenheim already this season.
And goal-getting has been more of a problem for men from Gelsenkirchen than letting them in. They have the fifth best defensive record in the league, worse off only than Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt. They have conceded only 27 times, just as many times as their Saturday’s opposition- Dortmund. And this proves that Schalke’s inability to get the goals has separated them from their arch-rivals, in terms of position in the table.
The Blues have the tenth best goalscoring record in the league, getting only 32 goals in the Bundesliga. Their highest goalscorers aren’t forwards, as former Tottenham man Nabil Bentaleb has scored five times, much like Austrian winger Alessandro Schopf. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has scored thrice, but Breel Embolo’s injury early in the season has been one of the prime reasons for a lack of goals.
The bad new for Schalke fans is that Thomas Tuchel hasn’t lost a single Ruhr derby till now, winning one, drawing twice.
Dortmund look to close in on second
RB Leipzig’s abrupt rise to prominence, after having gained promotion from the second division last season has been rather unprecedented. And few expected Dortmund not to finish below second, but that’s exactly what is happening. Considering Leipzig’s recent bad form, Dortmund will have an excellent opportunity to close in on the Die Roten Bullen.
As if BVB’s own form hasn’t been riddled with inconsistencies, the last six games have yielded two defeats for Tuchel’s men, have won the other four. Putting six past Bayer Leverkusen was a highlight, as BVB cruised to an impressive 6-2 wins over the BayArena based club. But inconsistencies and lack of ability to keep on winning, apart from Leipzig’s form has been a reason for as to why they aren’t having as good a season as the last.
They have scored only seven goals less than table-topping Bayern Munich- 54, 22 more than Schalke. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has scored 23 times, proving that he himself has been the difference in how the sides have fared in the league this season, considering both have let in only 27 times.
Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa has been a lucky charm for BVB in the Ruhr Derby, as the former Manchester United man has scored four times in the derby. And Dortmund have lost just one in the derby with him playing, winning five and drawing twice.
Injury doubts bothering Schalke
Dortmund don’t have any latest injury problems to deal with, apart from the absences of Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Sven Bender and Sebastian Rode, but Schalke will have to deal with some of them.
Matija Nastasic, who missed the previous game due to flu, is a doubt. So is Dennis Aogo, who hasn’t fully recovered from his ankle injury. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Sead Kolasinac and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are all doubts to feature on Saturday at the Veltins Arena.
Schalke: Fahrmann, Howedes, Nastasic, Badstuber, Kolasinac; Geis; Schopf, Goretzka, Bentaleb, Choupo-Moting; Burgstaller
Dortmund: Burki; Bartra, Sokratis, Ginter; Durm, Castro, Guerreiro, Schmelzer; Pulisic, Kagawa, Aubameyang