Gelsenkirchen - Hold on tight, it's going to be a bumpy ride as FC Schalke 04 open the doors of the Veltins Arena to Ruhr district foes Borussia Dortmund on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Far more than your average game of one-upmanship, the Revierderby is quite simply the be-all and end-all for anyone plying their trade in Germany's industrial heartland, especially the natives.
"Anyone who knows me, knows that I was born in the Ruhr and am a Schalke lad," explained Royal Blues captain Benedikt Höwedes. "I really live these matches and of course will put my body on the line for them. Local derbies are always very emotional encounters and that will continue to be the case. I've already played in lots of derbies and won plenty of them. I hope we can do it again this time."
In a sense, Höwedes and Co. hold all the cards going into the Bundesliga's 83rd Ruhrgebiet rumble, having chalked up a memorable double over their Schwarz-Gelben adversaries last term, but head coach Jens Keller is well aware all that will be thrown out of the window at the weekend. "Local derbies are like cup ties," he told the club's official website. "These games always have rules of their own!"
'Set the record straight'
Indeed, as history shows, the rulebooks are often torn up when it comes to meetings between the two Ruhrpott leviathans: eleven red cards since 2001 and only two goalless draws in the last ten years are testament to that. "Derbies are one of a kind - they'll never lose that," affirmed Keller's counterpart Jürgen Klopp. "They're so intense and full of passion" - and he should know.
The charismatic coach has overseen ten Revierderby rumbles since taking up the BVB reins in 2008, collecting three points on Schalke soil en route to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12, before the Royal Blues put their noses in front in the overall wins column last term (four to BVB's three under Klopp). "It's a shadow that hangs over the previous campaign," he bemoaned. "We really want to set the record straight."
Dortmund managed to do just that in the UEFA Champions League earlier this week, completing a successful revenge mission over Arsenal FC thanks to a trademark breakaway goal from Robert Lewandowski, after defeat two years earlier spelled the end for Klopp's charges on their return to the European stage.
Schalke, on the other hand, were given somewhat of a hiding by west London outfit Chelsea FC. "We were obviously disappointed after the 3-0 defeat against Chelsea, especially as the margin of defeat was not a true reflection of the game," recalled Keller. "Our focus is now on the derby [...] We have to be switched on right from the start. Psychology is always an important factor in local derbies."
FC Schalke 04: Hildebrand - Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Aogo - Neustädter, J. Jones - K.-P. Boateng, M. Meyer, Draxler - Szalai
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Großkreutz, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - S. Bender, Sahin - Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski
Watch FIFA 14's prediction for FC Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: