Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04 Preview: BVB look to maintain title pressure at expense of arch rivals
(Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

All eyes will be on Germany this weekend as European football returns following a two-month suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It seems somewhat fitting that the Bundesliga curtain raiser will be classic as Borussia Dortmund and Schalke lock horns in the 156th Revierderby with both sides still having everything to play for in the remaining nine matchdays of the season.

Story Behind The Match

Dortmund remain one of three sides in the hunt to topple Bayern Munich with themselves, RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach all within six points of the Bavarians.

Die Schwarzgelben (The Black and Yellows) come into the fixture in scintillating form, winning seven of their last eight games and scoring a joint league high 27 goals in the process. January signing Erling Haaland alone has scored a third of those goals, including a hat-trick on his debut for the club against Augsburg.  Their most recent fixture saw them humble newly promoted Union Berlin 5-0.

Schalke face a similar challenge to finish in the Europa League places battling with Koln, Hoffenheim, Freiburg and Wolfsburg for the final two spots. Their form is less than exemplary however, having won only once in their last eight games and scoring just four goals in the process.

BVB and the Miners shared the spoils in an uneventful 0-0 draw earlier in the season at the Veltins-Arena with five of their last 10 encounters ending in stalemate.

The game will be the first Ruhr derby history without any spectators in attendance, something that will disappoint Dortmund lacking the advantage of an 80,000 plus hostile crowd and famous 'Yellow Wall' cheering them on at Signal Iduna Park. 

Team News

The current climate has seen a change in Bundesliga rules allowing sides to make up to five substitutions during games, a move that has been heavily praised by BVB coach Lucian Favre:

"I am happy that we can change five players during the game. It is a very good idea and it will be necessary," he said. "It is very good that we now have a psychologist on the team, since it is a very special situation for everyone. We trained well. Now we are in the hotel, everyone is doing their job very well. We have no problem with it."

Dortmund captain Marco Reus remains on the sidelines with a thigh injury whilst midfield pair Emre Can and Axel Witsel are also set to miss out. The duo are expected to be replaced in the middle by Julian Brandt and Thomas Delaney respectively.

Defender Dan-Axel Zagadou is also a doubt with a knee injury. The 20-year-old has featured 13 times this season in the league.

Schalke have a near fully fit squad with only defenders Ozan Kabak (back) and Benjamin Stambouli (metatarsal) as well as midfielder Omar Mascarell (groin) absent.

S04 and former Huddersfield Town coach David Wagner is relishing the opportunity to return to football, especially given the occasion as his side look to return to winning ways:

"One huge advantage is that we aren't just playing any old match, but rather the derby! Even though the fans can't be with us in the stadium, I know that they will be fully backing us."

Midfielder Amine Harit looks set to return to the side. The 22-year-old was on the bench during S04's 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim back in March. The Moroccan hit the ground running at the beginning of the season and has six goals and four assists to his name, although none of those have come in his last nine appearances.

One To Watch

Already much talked about and firmly on the radar of fans across the world, Dortmund right-back Achraf Hakimi has established himself as one of the most exciting youngsters in the world with his displays this season.

The 21-year-old is on-loan from Spanish side Real Madrid and has chipped in with 13 goal contributions (3G, 10A) in 25 Bundesliga games this season with a further four goals in the Champions League.

Predicted Line-Ups

Dortmund XI: Bürki - Piszczek (c), Hummels, Akanji, Hakimi; Brandt, Delaney; Guerreiro - Sancho, Hazard; Haaland (4-2-3-1)

Schalke XI: Schubert - Kenny, Todibo, Nastasic, Oczipka (c) - Caligiuri, McKennie, Serdar - Harit - Burgstaller, Raman (4-3-1-2)

Where To Watch and Stream

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke is available to watch in the UK on BT Sport 1 at 14:30 BST.

VAVEL UK will have LIVE minute-by-minute updates of Saturday's match available on our website.

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