Question: what’s black and yellow and blue all over? Answer: the Revierderby, the Bundesliga’s biggest rivalry and one of the world’s most eagerly anticipated match-ups. This Saturday, the Ruhr district is ready to rock, heavy metal style, as Schalke host Borussia Dortmund with bragging rights and more on the line.
Form guide? Forget it. Whatever these two Bundesliga titans have treated us to so far this term will count for little. This biannual fixture is almost a season in and of itself, with BVB captain Marco Reus declaring: “There are two games a year for us which are particularly important: those against Schalke.”
The Royal Blues’ on-field leader, Ralf Fährmann, agrees, saying, "No matter where each team is in the table and no matter what kind of run we’re on, on derby day these things don’t count so much.”
Need proof? Pulses still rise, hearts palpitate and sweat glands secrete among supporters of both sides at the mere mention of last season’s 4-4 spectacular. Referred to as the, ‘Derby of the Century,’ by some, none who witnessed it will ever forget an encounter that had everything. Had the term, ‘game of two halves,’ not already been coined, this mesmerising match would have led to its creation.
After eight shots to Schalke’s two, BVB amazingly led by 4-0 after only 25 minutes. Apparently sunk at the break, Domenico Tedesco’s Miners emerged from their pit of despair to turn the Revierderby upside down after the restart, managing 11 shots to their rivals’ three and scoring four goals in the process. Tales of Naldo’s injury-time leveller will be passed down to future generations of Schalke fans who will listen in disbelief as to the events of that November night in 2017.
Indeed, Dortmund were well and truly done with their nagging tormenter Naldo when the sides faced off once more later last season. The Brazilian – the Bundesliga’s top-scoring defender with seven goals in 2017/18 – netted in a 2-0 home triumph for Schalke that included the club’s 2,500th top-flight goal, registered by Yevhen Konoplyanka.
The visiting Borussia Dortmund fans will flood into the Veltins-Arena on Saturday keen to see Die Schwarzgelben keep their narrow derby edge over their local nemesis. In 92 Revierderby meetings in the Bundesliga, BVB have won 32 to Schalke’s 31 and outscored Die Königsblauen by 143 goals to 132.
Added to the international feel of Saturday’s spectacular, Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie will raise interest in the contest Stateside, the USMNT pair proving an intriguing addition over recent contests.
Now 20, Pulisic became the youngest non-German to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances in last season’s 4-4 draw, yet the Hershey native has yet to taste victory in this fixture after five attempts, unlike that tricky Texan McKennie. Forming part of the Schalke team that won the teams’ last meeting 2-0, the 20-year-old’s first Revierderby experience was last year’s colossal four-goal fightback.
Currently top of the table and the only Bundesliga team undefeated after 13 games this season, Dortmund have thus far left the rest of the competition floundering in their wake. Lucien Favre’s men have so far scored a division-high 37 goals and are on a four-match winning streak away from home, yet in terms of the Revierderby, they are seeking a first triumph against Schalke in five outings.
Despite their somewhat lowly position in the standings this term, Tedesco’s Schalke have won three of their last four home matches, raising the temperature among their passionate faithful at just the right moment.
With attacking talent like Reus, Amine Harit, Jadon Sancho, Daniel Caligiuri, Paco Alcacer and Guido Burgstaller ready to rock the Revierderby, we seem destined for one more goalfest. There hasn’t been a scoreless draw between these sides at the Veltins Arena since 2006, while the teams’ last 12 meetings have produced goals.
For the in-form Reus, in particular, there will be the extra incentive of scoring for the first time at the home of Dortmund’s great rivals. All four of the 29-year-old’s goals against Schalke have been scored back in Dortmund.
"We have a lot of young players with us, but luckily some of our older ones have experienced this fixture a lot,” Reus told Kicker magazine. “Together, we talk about [the build-up to this game] being a special situation, but we try to keep our focus on those 90 minutes.”
For Schalke custodian Fährmann, Saturday’s spectacular will always be something special, and no ordinary game. "The Revierderby always has the feel of a cup tie,” he said. “The tension is rising ever faster and there is no such thing as small talk at this stage." Don’t miss any of the pre-match chatter in the build-up to the 93rd Bundesliga Revierderby here on bundesliga.com and across our social channels.