Bayern Munich and Schalke eyes on 'little Revierderby' between Bochum and Borussia Dortmund
Rivalries and fan friendships will be put to the test when Bochum host Borussia Dortmund in the so-called 'little Revierderby' on Friday, in a game of particular significance in the title race and relegation battle.
With five rounds of fixtures still to play, Bochum have work to do to secure a second successive season of Bundesliga football. Thomas Letsch's side have shown signs of life in recent weeks, but the fact remains they're still only two points above the relegation play-off spot and three clear of second-bottom Schalke heading into Matchday 30.
Dortmund are also looking over their shoulders, albeit on Bayern Munich and the rest of the standings in the most exciting quest for top honours in living memory. A point ahead of the record champions, BVB will take the prize for the first time since going all the way under Jürgen Klopp in 2011/12, if they win all their remaining matches.
Ordinarily, the prospect of Dortmund taking another step towards a sixth Bundesliga title would be anathema to supporters of a Schalke persuasion. The two Ruhr district clubs share the fiercest local rivalry in German football, laid bare as recently as Matchday 24 in the Revierderby. Each recoils at the others triumphs, whilst celebrating their respective failings like a victory.
For once, however, Schalke will be in Dortmund's corner. If Bochum lose to BVB and the Royal Blues beat Werder Bremen on Saturday, the lowly duo will be tied on 27 points - but Schalke would climb out of the automatic relegation zone on goal difference. They could even vacate the bottom three altogether, so long as 16th-placed VfB Stuttgart don't get a win aganst Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Watch: Bochum vs. Dortmund - Ruhr district roots
On the flip side, a positive result for Bochum would keep Schalke at arm's length and hand the initiative back to Bayern in the title race. Instead of having four points to make up on Dortmund in the event of a BVB win, the 31-time Bundesliga champions would be in a position to regain top spot when they take to the field against rock-bottom Hertha Berlin on Sunday - and potentially restore the two-point cushion surrendered on Matchday 29.
It means even more outside attention on the Vonovia-Stadion in the Matchday 30 opener - not that Bayern fans need an excuse to fly the Bochum flag. When the two clubs met earlier this season at the Allianz Arena, special pre-match tifos were hung from either side of the stadium to mark a fan friendship dating back some 50 years. They read: "50 years of Bayern and VfL" and "Bonded decades ago - connected forever."
Camaraderie born from conflict, the unique bond was forged in the aftermath of a Bayern win in Bochum on 3 November 1973. The visiting Bayern fans were attacked by some of Bochum's Ultras, only for the Bochumer Jungen - one of VfL's oldest supporter groups - to come to their aid. They later drank together in a local pub, and the teams' avid followers have been friends ever since.
Although Bochum succumbed to a 3-0 defeat in Dortmund in the reverse fixture and exited this season's DFB Cup at black-and-yellow hands, VfL secured their top-flight survival with room to spare by beating BVB 4-3 at the Signal Iduna Park last term in their first win over Die Schwarzgelben since March 2007.
How the drinks will flow in Bochum - and Munich - if the Ruhr outfit can stage another famous intervention on Matchday 30. Don't miss a minute of the action, courtesy of bundesliga.com!
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