One of the most eagerly-anticipated clashes on the Bundesliga calendar will take place this weekend when Borussia Dortmund and Schalke face off once again in the Revierderby.
And, as far as derbies in German football go, they do not come much bigger than Saturday’s match at Signal Iduna Park.
With a history dating back to 1925, the two biggest clubs in the Ruhr region have been enemies for a long time now and the rivalry has only intensified as the years have past.
This season, there has been an added element of intrigue given where both teams currently find themselves.
Prepare for another Revierderby classic in the Bundesliga
Having come close to winning the Meisterschale last term, even holding a nine-point lead at one stage, Dortmund were once more tipped to challenge but again find themselves trailing leaders Bayern Munich by four points at present.
Meanwhile, Schalke had a campaign to forget in 2018/19 as they flirted with relegation before ultimately finishing in 14th position but have been rejuvenated under new coach David Wagner to currently lie 6th on the table.
Both the title and UEFA Champions League qualification are firmly in sight for Dortmund and Schalke respectively and – with nine games left to go in the season – three points this weekend could prove pivotal.
On the field, there is no shortage of star quality in both camps.
With 68 goals to their names, Dortmund boast the second-best attack in the Bundesliga and it does not come as a surprise considering the star names at their disposal, even if talismanic captain Marco Reus continues to be sidelined.
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Jadon Sancho has really stepped up in his absence with 14 goals and 15 assists, and has been joined by fellow 19-year-old wonderkid Erling Haaland – who already has nine goals to his name despite only arriving in January.
While BVB did look vulnerable at the back earlier in the season, manager Lucien Favre seems to have steadied the ship by settling on a back three of Mats Hummels, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Lukasz Piszczek, who are ably supported by wing-backs Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro.
On the other hand, Wagner and Schalke arguably deserve even more credit for their performances so far in 2019/20 considering the amount of injuries they have been hit with, especially in defence.
They are currently without three key centre-backs in stalwarts Salif Sane and Benjamin Stambouli, along with rising star Ozan Kabak, while the engine room is also missing Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar.
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Their unavailability has seen Weston McKennie really grow in influence at the Veltins-Arena, while livewire Amine Harit is one player that will cause problems for any opposition defence.
When both sides met earlier in the season, they failed to live up to the hype as the first Revierderby of 2019/20 ended in a 0-0 draw.
But, with some big names in top form and with plenty more at stake as the business end of the campaign approaches, expect Saturday’s clash at Signal Iduna Park to deliver fireworks.