An international cast, the game the world watched and incredible drama: The Revierderby is not a game to miss. - © DFL
An international cast, the game the world watched and incredible drama: The Revierderby is not a game to miss. - © DFL

Schalke vs. Borussia Dortmund: 5 reasons to watch the Revierderby


There's nothing quite like a game between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke - especially when they are both in scintillating form. bangs the drum for the Revierderby, coming to you live around the world this weekend...

Click here for all the news and latest on the 100th Revierderby!

1) Glittering form to take to Gelsenkirchen

Schalke and Dortmund: two huge clubs with massive, famously passionate support, and two clubs who have very much experienced the dizzy highs and bitter lows of football in recent years. When it comes to the present, though, almost everything is rosy for both Ruhr giants.

Schalke seemed to be staring relegation in the face at the end of January, when a 1-6 defeat at RB Leipzig left them adrift at the bottom of the table and on a mere nine points at the season's halfway stage. Few would have dared to predict what followed - a 0-0 draw against Cologne was followed by three more stalemates and crucial wins over VfB Stuttgart and Bochum.

The remarkable transformation means Schalke are not only off the foot of the table, but boast the sturdiest defence of the Rückrunde  (one goal conceded in six games). For a club that had suffered the disappointment of relegation as recently as 2021, the psychological boost cannot be underestimated.

Watch: The Revierderby rivalry explained

Defensive stability has been in no short supply in Dortmund either - with just four goals conceded in seven matches between Matchdays 17 and 23. The Black and Yellows have also coupled that with an explosive deployment of their well-stocked attacking firepower - rattling in 18 goals over that period. No other team in Europe has hit more.

All of which translates into Dortmund being joint-top of the Bundesliga, behind Bayern Munich on goal difference alone, thanks to an eight-match winning start to 2023. Something has to give as the two teams with the best form in Germany - and perhaps even Europe - contest the Revierderby.

2) Germany's BIGGEST derby

Every country has its own great footballing derbies, from Spain's El Clásico to the Derby della Madonnina in Milan and the Old Firm in Glasgow, but none can claim to be the 'Mother of all Derbies'. That distinction is reserved for meetings between Dortmund and Schalke - the main event on Bundesliga Matchday 24.

So what is a Revierderby? Well, the term generally refers to a neighbourly meeting of two clubs from north-west Germany's heavily industrialised Ruhr district. More specifically, the Revierderby narrows that down to the 20 miles separating Dortmund from Schalke's home base of Gelsenkirchen.

Watch: The top 5 Revierderby moments

Other than their proximity, there was no particular trigger for a rivalry which, if anything, has only intensified over the years for two sets of supporters who basically like nothing more than to give each other a good pasting.

Just to ram home what's at stake in the Revierderby, take note of this response from ex-Dortmund player Kevin Großkreutz - himself raised on a strictly BVB diet - when asked what he would do if he had a son who chose to support Schalke. "Give him up for adoption, of course!"

If reside in the Ruhr district - perhaps with a few exceptions - you're either Black-and-Yellow or Royal Blue. There's no middle ground. And that means rubbing your neighbours' faces in your successes and their failures.

When Schalke's relegation to Bundesliga 2 was confirmed in April 2021, Dortmund's die-hard contingent set off celebratory fireworks over Gelsenkirchen. A year earlier, Schalke had partied like it's 1999 after triumphing on Dortmund soil to all but end their rivals' title hopes. So it's very much tit for tat aboard the Revierderby's magic banter bus.

Watch: Revierderby brothers share incredible story

3) Hey, Jude!

Bellingham will relish the fervent atmosphere more than most. Although England born, he personifies the working-class ethos that runs through the old steel communities of Dortmund. A fighter with finesse and a cerebral midfielder who has worn the captain's armband on occasions despite his tender age, few players would be more befitting a place in Revierderby folklore.

Everyone can see that Bellingham - a teenager he may still technically be - is a man that rises to any occasion. He chipped in with an assist despite playing less than 30 minutes of his first derby encounter (a 4-0 win in 2020/21) and Dortmund did not concede in either of his two appearances against Schalke.

With his side in the midst of a fierce title race, there is no doubting the fire that burns deep within the 19-year-old's black-and-yellow soul. Bellingham would take on the entire Schalke team handcuffed and blindfolded, if he had to.

4) Thrills, spills and comebacks

Dortmund have won the last four derbies by an aggregate score of 12-0, the first of which was a 4-0 success best remembered for the eerie circumstances in which it was played, as the Bundesliga became the first major European league to resume during the coronavirus pandemic.

The behind-closed doors encounter attracted millions of viewers worldwide, from the uninitiated to veterans of the Bundesliga scene. Yes, you all no doubt remember watching this game stuck at home as Germany led the way for football's safe return.

Together, the world bore witness to the new abnormal: audible shouts from players and coaches, along with socially distanced goal celebrations and substitutions protocol. In its own way, the fixture was as memorable as some of the great Revierderbies of times past.

Titles have been decided, dreams shattered - and there's even been a last-minute equaliser from goalkeeper Jens Lehmann - but it's the 91st rendition, on Matchday 13 of 2017/18, that is considered the derby to end all derbies.

Despite being 4-0 up inside 25 minutes, Dortmund conspired to throw away their sizeable advantage as Schalke served up a second-half comeback for the ages.

Four minutes sandwiched goals from Guido Burgstaller and Amine Harit as the Miners began to dig themselves out of a very big hole. Daniel Caligiuri made it 4-3 following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's sending off, before Naldo completed the trick in the third of seven allotted minutes of added time.

There has never been a Revierderby like it and, although we hope otherwise, there probably never will be.

Watch: The legendary 4-4 draw

5) Black-yellow, red, white and blue

Christian Pulisic was on the Dortmund teamsheet that infamous November afternoon. He's one of seven American nationals to have graced the Revierderby stage - but the wait for a first star-spangled derby goal goes on.

Could Dortmund prodigy Gio Reyna be the man to break the cycle, having scored three goals already in 2023?

"Christian and Weston [McKennie] never scored [in the Revierderby]? That's surprising, I thought Christian would have scored," Reyna told ahead of his Revierderby debut in October 2020.

"To be the first American to score in this derby would be cool, I'm surprised to hear that neither of them have scored, so hopefully I can score."

Watch: Gio Reyna - ready for Schalke

It'll be a case of third time's a charm, if Reyna pulls it off. The US international also has a 100 percent winning record in senior career meetings with Schalke to uphold.

With 133 derby minutes spanning one start and two substitute appearances in 3-0, 4-0 and 1-0 triumphs to draw on, the 19-year-old is a relative Revierderby veteran - at least in comparison to the current Schalke crop. Not one member of the squad had featured in the German football equivalent to Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier before this season's reverse fixture. And there are a good handful of Thomas Reis' side for whom Saturday's meeting will be a first.

Luckily for them, form and experience take a back-seat in the rip-roaring world of the Revierderby.

"It's a derby - they're gonna give their best and so are we," Reyna said in the build-up to the 99th meeting between BVB and S04 of the Bundesliga era earlier this season.

That is all the respective Dortmund and Schalke factions ever ask for. That, and a win over their near, far from dear, neighbours.