Borussia Dortmund and Schalke: Close rivals who could not be further apart

Dortmund (51.5136° N, 7.4653° E) and Gelsenkirchen (51.5177° N, 7.0857° E) are right in the centre of the Ruhr valley — separated by a mere 30km (18 miles) — but the sporting geography has shifted so much in Germany’s most football-crazed region that Borussia and Schalke 04 barely find themselves in the same league.

Whereas the Black and Yellows can reclaim top spot from Bayern Munich — for 24 hours at least — and boost their Bundesliga title credentials with a home win in the 154th Revierderby on Saturday, Schalke find themselves fighting for survival in Germany’s top flight.

Dortmund have won eight league titles to their rivals’ seven, but all Schalke’s successes came before the birth of the Bundesliga in 1962 and they are no longer the region’s No. 1 club. Ever since Dortmund claimed their first championship in 1956, a triumph for either against the hated neighbours has come with its own, delicious reward, irrespective of repercussions in the nfl jerseys china nike

On this occasion, however, the huge — if asymmetrical — importance of the result for both parties will make this fiercely tribal dispute even more fractious than usual and millions in Germany will tune in at 3:30 p.m. CET to witness the hostilities play out live on free-to-air TV.2

“You know that Saturday will be war,” Schalke midfielder Benjamin Stambouli said. “Winning the derby is the best feeling in the world. It’s our chance to give back to our supporters in these difficult times.”

BVB captain Marco Reus put the task in more prosaic terms. “We simply have to thump Schalke to stay in contention,” the Germany international declared.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Dortmund are entitled to feel optimistic. Their 4-0 away win at Freiburg last week was not quite as convincing as the scoreline suggested but came with a rare clean sheet and a sprinkling of goals of extraordinary quality. The demoralising effect of BVB’s 5-0 defeat in Munich three weeks ago has proved very short-lived and belief has returned.

Schalke, by contrast, are in the middle of a rotten run that has brought only two league wins since the winter break. The slump led to the departures of sporting director Christian Heidel and coach Domenico Tedesco, but there has been no real improvement since last year’s runners-up brought back club icon Huub Stevens, 65, as interim manager at the beginning of the month.

Indeed, the famously gruff Dutchman’s ultra-defensive style has arguably made a team low on guile and creativity blunter and even more unwatchable; Schalke have mustered a mere 32 goals in 30 games, 40 fewer than Dortmund. If it was not for the rank incompetence of the teams below them, the troubles of the team in 15th place would be much greater.