The eyes of the footballing world will be on the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday as Schalke host Borussia Dortmund in the 95th edition of the Revierderby in the Bundesliga. It’s known as the “mother of all derbies” and can define a season, so what points to a Schalke victory? bundesliga.com has five reasons why the Ruhr region will be Royal Blue on Matchday 9…
bundesliga.com has five reasons why the Ruhr region will be Royal Blue on Matchday 9…
1) Fortune and form favours Schalke
They say form goes out of the window in derby matches, but it’s hard to ignore Schalke’s recent run against Dortmund. The Royal Blues have lost only one of their last seven showdowns with BVB: a 2-1 home defeat in September 2019. Schalke have won two in that time - redressing the balance in some style to beat Dortmund 4-2 at the Signal Iduna Park late in 2018/19 - and drawn the other four.
Watch: Schalke's top 5 Revierderby goals against Dortmund
There’s more than an element of psychological advantage in the mix, too, given their quite startling comeback from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in THE mother of all derbies on a famous November 2017 night in Dortmund.
2) Harit’s on fire, Dortmund should be terrified
Replacing Franco Di Santo in the 34th minute, Amine Harit was the catalyst for that unfathomable turnaround. His maiden Bundesliga goal reduced the arrears to 4-2 and, with BVB on the ropes, nothing - not even an uncompromising 80th-minute challenge from Gonzalo Castro – could deny him his part. "I couldn't run,” he recalled. “The last ten minutes were tough, but I had to play on for the team."
Watch: Highlights of Schalke's famous 4-4 comeback draw in Dortmund
Almost two years on and with a season beset by off-field distractions behind him, Harit now has a Bundesliga Player of the Month award to go with the ragged royal-blue sock that bore the full force of Castro’s calf-crunching tackle. The 22-year-old magician has hit four goals in eight matches - as many as in his previous 49 league outings - and provided two assists this season.
3) Daniel Caligiuri aka Mr. Revierderby
Like Harit, Daniel Caligiuri already enjoys a place in Revierderby folklore. The Germany-born Italian Stallion took to the field at Signal Iduna Park last season with two goals in four previous Ruhr district rumbles to his name. He left with a match-winning brace and assist, bragging rights and a big pat on the pack from Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.
Caligiuri all but secured Schalke’s top-flight status, whilst ending Dortmund's 15-match unbeaten home run and - effectively - their hopes of bringing the Bundesliga title back to the black-and-yellow half of the Ruhr for the first time since 2012. "If people think I'm a derby hero, that's great," he said afterwards.
Watch: Daniel Caligiuri inspired Schalke to a BIG win over Dortmund last season
4) The Leipzig blueprint
'Heroic' is a word you might use to describe Schalke’s 3-1 success away to title contenders RB Leipzig on Matchday 6. Harit once again pulled the strings, but it was the midfield block of Omar Mascarell, Weston McKennie and Suat Serdar that provided the foundation for the win.
Injuries prevented two of the steely trio from facing Hoffenheim last weekend as Schalke succumbed to a 2-0 defeat, but Wagner has all three back at his disposal and ready to tackle Axel Witsel and Co. head on in the derby. The Leipzig result was one of four games they’ve started this term; Schalke have won three of them.
5) Home comforts
Schalke lost the corresponding fixture last season, but only after a quite wonderful solo goal from Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. Prior to that, Die Knappen had enjoyed a four-game unbeaten run against their black-and-yellow neighbours, winning two and drawing two.
Even in defeat, Caligiuri maintained their record of scoring. It’s now 13 years since Schalke have failed to find the net against Dortmund at the Veltins-Arena. Unlucky for some - hopefully not those of a royal-blue persuasion.
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