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Schalke 04
E. Haaland (29), R. Guerreiro (45), T. Hazard (48), R. Guerreiro (63)

Preview: Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04

By Gruff Mathias

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Photo: Borussia Dortmund
Not only does this weekend present the long-awaited return of European football, it also marks the 156th Revierderby, with Borussia Dortmund taking on familiar foes Schalke 04 in what promises to be an enthralling encounter.

With nine games left to play, both clubs have their eyes set on European football and while Dortmund sit in a respective second place, four points off title favourites Bayern Munich, Schalke, who currently lie sixth in the table, have a much more difficult task if they are to push into a Champions League place.

After a disappointing campaign last season, which saw ‘The Royal Blues’ in a relegation battle for large parts of the season, the appointment of former Huddersfield coach David Wagner has given Schalke a much-needed boost. Although, having made an excellent start to the season, it is fair to say recent performances have been somewhat underwhelming, with Wagner’s side having failed to win in the six games prior to the suspension of the league.

Dortmund, on the other hand, have suffered no such fate, with Favre’s men collecting a respectable 12 points in their last 5 games. Another reason for Dortmund fans to be hopeful going into the game is the impressive form of winger Jadon Sancho, with the Englishman having picked up a staggering 14 goals and 15 assists so far this season. Alongside the likes of Erling Haaland and Thorgan Hazard, the England international makes up one of Europe’s most dangerous attacking tridents.

Despite having not played a Bundesliga game since the middle of march, title hopefuls Dortmund will have to do without a handful of key players. Lucien Favre confirmed both Emre Can and Axel Witsel will be unavailable, with both players having suffered muscular injuries in the weeks prior to the derby. Club captain Marco Reus and Dan-Axel Zagadou will also miss out while Nico Schulz are unlikely to be in contention.

Schalke have been more fortunate and are only likely to be missing three first team players, with the versatile Benjamin Stambouli, midfielder Omar Mascarell and centre-back Ozan Kabak all having been ruled out by Coach David Wagner.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, both managers have had their say in what can only be described as unprecedented circumstances. In an interview with Bild, Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre admitted “A match without spectators is really different” and that Dortmund have to be “well prepared” stating that “It’s a question of mentality, which is very important”.

Schalke manager David Wagner took a similar approach, saying “it's been tough going, but the lads have made the best of this situation. 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.”

With an empty stadium and players likely to be short of match fitness, it is hard to know what to expect for this Revierderby, but as with all games in the Bundesliga, it promises to be a fascinating watch.

Predicted line-ups:

Borussia Dortmund: Bürki - Piszczek, Hummels, Akanji - Hakimi, Delaney, Brandt, Guerreiro - Sancho, Hazard - Haaland.

Schalke 04: Schubert - Kenny, Sané, Nastasic, Oczipka - McKennie - Caligiuri, Serdar - Harit - Burgstaller, Raman.

Where and when:

The match will be played on May 16, 15:30 (CET) at Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund.

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