Schalke target another Dortmund upset
Jens Keller sees no reason his Schalke side cannot upset the form book once again and inflict a third successive defeat on arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund.
On Saturday, the Revierderby will be staged for the 83rd time in Bundesliga history and, across those meetings, the teams cannot be separated, having won 29 apiece.
However, current form suggests Dortmund are the favourites to claim victory at the Veltins-Arena, with Juergen Klopp’s men second in the Bundesliga on 22 points, while Schalke eight behind in fifth.
However, Schalke finished 11 points behind Dortmund last season but still claimed home and away victories in the Revierderby, and Keller is confident the Royal Blues can deliver this time around.
“Dortmund were also dominant last season and we won regardless,” Keller told kicker. “Why shouldn’t we do it again?”
Keller, installed as Schalke boss in January 2013, heads into only his second derby, but he has already understood the importance of the game.
“It is something special -- we’ve got many players in our ranks who grew up in this region,” he said. Everyone is looking forward to it. A derby always has the character of a cup game. It has its own rules.”
Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes added: “Those games are not so much about the individual quality but rather about the attitude. We know how obsessed our fans are with the derby and we want to make them happy.”
For Dortmund, meanwhile, there is an absolute determination to gain revenge for last season. After Tuesday’s victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, the travelling fans had chanted: “We want the derby win.”
Goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, heading into his 20th derby, said: “We’ve understood the fans’ message. You are always under pressure at Dortmund, but Schalke is something special.”
Klopp told the prematch news conference on Thursday that the defeats to Schalke had hurt more than losing out to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League last season.
“When you sign a contract at Borussia Dortmund, the first thing you learn is that there are 32 Bundesliga games and two derbies,” he said.
“The results last year hurt me the most. If we had played better, the results would have been better. Those defeats are the dark clouds over our last campaign, which, even without a title, was still pretty good otherwise.”
Dortmund did not win a single one of the 12 Bundesliga Revierderbies between May 1999 and May 2005, but they have only once lost three times in succession -- from April 1968 to March 1969.
“It’s anything but nice to lose two derbies in a row,” BVB midfielder Sven Bender said. “We would love to win again.”