Dortmund turn to bitter rivals Schalke to keep title dream alive
Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga title bid may require the assistance of an unlikely ally, with fierce rivals Schalke making the trip to face league leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Bayern host Schalke in Saturday’s early game, mere hours before Dortmund’s clash with Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Reigning champions Bayern sit just one point clear and know any slip-up could allow Dortmund to reclaim top spot with two rounds to play.
The rivalry between Dortmund and Schalke, two clubs located 30 kilometres apart in Germany’s former industrial Ruhr region, is the fiercest in the top division.
Schalke are the least likely team in Germany to want to do Dortmund a favour, but the Royal Blues lie in 15th, one spot clear of the relegation play-off spot, and are in desperate need of points.
Dortmund mayor Thomas Westphal this week said he would “invite the Schalke team to City Hall to sign the Golden Book” the council uses to mark special occasions if they pull off a miraculous result against Bayern.
Schalke coach Thomas Reis said on Thursday “the Dortmunders should come up with a few other ideas” but told reporters “if we succeed and others benefit, then that’s fine.”
Schalke have lost their last 11 matches against Bayern, last beating the Bavarians in 2011. The Royal Blues have however won three of their last four to jump out of the relegation spots for the first time since September.
Dortmund coach Edin Terzic, who was born and raised as a BVB fan in the multicultural north of the city, was not in the mood to discuss Schalke being his team’s saviour.
“We need to win our three games — that’s the only thing we can influence,” Terzic said on Thursday.
“We might keep an eye out for one or two push notifications (from the Bayern-Schalke game), but won’t be hosting a watch party.
“Whether it’s Schalke, Leipzig or Cologne who help us out at the end, doesn’t matter to me at all.”
With several ex-Schalke players including Leroy Sane, Leon Goretzka, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and injured captain Manuel Neuer in their ranks, Bayern have been quietly getting back to form under Thomas Tuchel.
The Bavarians have won two in a row for the first time under Tuchel and know three more wins will secure an 11th straight title, regardless of what happens at Dortmund.
One to watch: Joe Scally
Fresh from extending his contract at Gladbach by one year until 2027, American defender Joe Scally will have his hands full trying to keep tabs on Dortmund’s firing frontline on Saturday.
While several top players look set to miss the clash including Marcus Thuram, Manu Kone and Alassane Plea, 10th-placed Gladbach have saved their best performances for the Bundesliga’s biggest teams this season.
With wins over Dortmund, Bayern and RB Leipzig this season, Scally told AFP “we get up for the games” against the league’s big guns.
Scally however said that derailing a potential Dortmund title was not a motivating factor, saying “at their stadium, with their fans, it’s definitely motivation enough.”
10 – Despite making it to the German Cup final, Frankfurt are winless in 10 league games, leading to the decision to move on from coach Oliver Glasner at the end of the season. Glasner will be banned for Saturday’s derby with Mainz for “unsportsmanlike conduct” after he kicked a ball onto the field in his side’s 3-1 loss to Hoffenheim last week.
48 – No team in Europe’s five major leagues can match Dortmund’s 48-goal tally in 2023. Manchester City (45) and Arsenal (43) are next best and have both played more matches than the German side.
Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Cologne v Hertha Berlin (1830)
Bochum v Augsburg, Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich v Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz, Union Berlin v Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1630)
Stuttgart v Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig v Werder Bremen (1530)