The 157th Ruhr Derby is upon us: Third-placed Borussia Dortmund are set to host 17th-placed FC Schalke 04 in Saturday evening's headline match (kick-off 18:30 CET) at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK.
In the pre-match press conference, there was still time to address Tuesday's Champions League opener away to Lazio - which ended in a 3-1 defeat - before focus could turn to the upcoming clash with the Royal Blues. ''We were disappointed, particularly with the first half. The coaching staff felt we were lacking fight, a desire to run, and passion,'' said sporting director Michael Zorc as he reflected on the defeat, adding: ''We want to see a reaction against Schalke.'' Head coach Lucien Favre also chipped in: ''We made too many mistakes. It wasn't a good game for us. That can happen sometimes. The Schalke match will be a completely different story. We're going to manage to get a win.''
The visitors from Gelsenkirchen are still without a win this season. Their one point so far came in a draw against Union Berlin last weekend. Prior to that, Schalke had lost three games on the trot. Coach David Wagner was dismissed at the end of September, with Manuel Baum stepping in to take his place on the sidelines. Favre has kept a close eye on the opposition over the past few weeks and has come to a clear conclusion: ''They press very high and play with a lot of commitment.''
The most recent encounter between the Black & Yellows and the Royal Blues came back in May, with BVB running out 4-0 winners in what was the first Bundesliga match after the suspension of play in March due to the Coronavirus. No spectators were allowed to attend on the day, and on Saturday there will only be 300 in attendance; as such, the conditions won't be too dissimilar. In Zorc's words: ''We were in the same situation a few months ago and we managed to put in an excellent performance. It's still a derby, even if the stands won't be full. We're well aware of how important the game is for us and our fans. Schalke will come at us with lots of fight, passion, discipline and endeavour. They'll do all they can to stop us playing our game. We have to be prepared for that.''
All the players that travelled to Rome came back in full fitness. Since then, Thorgan Hazard and Nico Schulz (both torn muscles) have been able to make their respective returns to team training. Emre Can, suspended in Rome, and Manuel Akanji also both took part in the session. The latter has been keeping fit on the treadmill and exercise bicycle while quarantining after his positive Coronavirus test. ''Things are looking good,'' said Favre, who finds himself with more options in defence thanks to the returnees.