They celebrated the 2-1 derby victory exuberantly, jumping and dancing on the soggy surface: Borussia's U19s boast a comfortable 12-point lead over Schalke after their triumph in the A-Junior Bundesliga West's top match and have their sights set on a title hat-trick. Mike Tullberg's team will be looking to take the next step on the road to the West German championship when they face Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday (11:00 CET).

"I started here four years ago. The first season was cancelled due to corona with us in first position. Now we can become West German champions for the third time in succession. I don't think that that's ever happened at Borussia Dortmund," said a happy and proud Mike Tullberg.

To put the significance of Wednesday evening's win at the renovated Parkstadion into perspective, he reflected on the recent past: "We didn't win the last two derbies with the U17s. And Schalke have won the German and West German championships in the last two years with their U17s, which is almost identical to the current U19s." In fact, Borussia's starting line-up included Robin Lisewski, Almugera Kabar, Nico Adamczyk, Kjell Wätjen, Paris Brunner, Tyler Meiser and Cole Campbell – seven players who had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home last season. In the 2021/22 season, the team – which also included Rafael Lubach and Vincenzo Onofrietti – lost 2-0 at Schalke.

Tullberg therefore rates the win in the first half-season's rescheduled match and the new derby mentality shown by his boys all the more highly: "Those weren't really our conditions, and Schalke were a bit stronger than us physically. But the players threw themselves into every challenge and gave everything they had." Even Schalke's coach Norbert Elgert couldn't help but recognise the Black & Yellows' exceptional status: "In terms of effectiveness, they're playing in a league of their own at the moment. That's definitely the case."

U17 World Cup winner Kabar nearing top form

With nine matchdays to go before the end of the season, BVB stand alone at the top of the table. "16 wins in 17 games – that says it all," beamed Mike Tullberg. And then on top of that there's the above-average goal difference (53-10). Nonetheless, Tullberg will also approach the upcoming matches with great seriousness: "There is no reason to become sloppy."

In addition to Filippo Mane and Charles Herrmann, BVB will also be without the injured centre-back Leonardo Posadas for the next few weeks. Tullberg is therefore delighted that Almugera Kabar is gradually nearing top form after a long enforced break and careful build-up work. Following a handful of cameo appearances, the U17 World Cup winner spent over an hour working efficiently down the left side of defence in Gelsenkirchen. His next endurance test will be against Bielefeld, provided the player workload plan allows for it.

Following a temporary high in November/December, when Arminia beat FC Schalke 04 1-0, the reigning German B-Junior champions have slipped to 10th place. Nonetheless, Mike Tullberg is wary of the opposition: "The games in Cologne and Schalke used up a lot of energy. A show of willpower will be required again." (wiwi)