THE BUNDESLIGA is back and Tom Love (@TomLove_18) is on-hand to preview the mouthwatering Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke | Saturday 16th May 2020, 14:30 | BT Sport
Football is finally back! It’s felt like an eternity but top level games are now amongst us and what a cracker we have in store as fierce rivals Dortmund and Schalke go head-to-head on Saturday afternoon.
Obviously there will be no fans present at the game and that is a crying shame given it’s derby status. I’ve been to Dortmund, seeing them beat Hertha Berlin around a decade ago and I stayed with Dortmund fans for a few days. I knew there was a semblance of animosity between the clubs but I’d always been of the predisposition that German games were family friendly, nice affairs at all times. How wrong I was.
There wasn’t a conversation about football where BVB’s bitter rivals didn’t come up, although they rarely mentioned them by their actual name. Just 20 miles separates the cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen, both heavy industry, working class cities so it’s not so much a classist friction. Many derbies are not fuelled purely by geography, especially ones as intense as this, it seems there was a past-time where the Revierderby went up a notch…
Bizarrely, in a match in Dortmund in the late 1960’s two Schalke players we’re bitten by dogs held by stewards who were trying to restore an overly packed crowd from entering the pitch. The German Shepards were unmuzzled and some Schalke fans thought this was a deliberate ploy to injure their key men. One of the players in question, Friedel Rausch confessed to still baring a scar from the incident.
So what happens the following season as Schalke play hosts? They rented a quartet of lions from a local safari park of course. It was a manoeuvre to intimidate the Dortmund players when they walked into the pitch, as well as an act of revenge. Suffice to say it didn’t really go to plan as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
It’s far from a fire that’s been put out though. In 2006 a group of Schalke fans broke into the Westfalenstadion and stole a large banner that was used in the famous ‘Yellow Wall’. The incident quietened down for a while before Royal Blues ultras tote the banner to pieces in a 2009 fixture between the two to the fury of Dortmund supporters.
If you didn’t know how serious this rivalry was, well, now you do.
In the recent past we’ve seen some epic battles on the pitch between the pair. One that stands out in the memory was an eight-goal thriller at Signal Iduna Park in 2017. Dortmund raced into a 4-0 lead in the first 25 minutes believe it or not, but what happened after the break was the mother of all comebacks.
The then manager of Schalke, Domenico Todesco, made all three subs by the start of the second half and watched on as his team get it back to 4-2 after 65 minutes. A few moments later Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang was sent off and it was constant Schalke pressure which gave way when first Daniel Caligiuri curled one into the top corner and then towering Brazilian centre half Naldo thundered in a stoppage time header to end the epic game 4-4.
Incredibly, Schalke also scored four in their rivals’ back yard again last season, walking out with a 4-2 victory after two Dortmund players were sent off. Maybe the lack of pressure from 80,000 fans may benefit the Black and Yellows as they’ve shown themselves to be hot-headed and naive in the vociferous atmosphere.
State of play
As we stand in the current season, Dortmund still harbour hopes of a title win with them just 4 points behind current champions Bayern Munich. Schalke, on the other hand, look to be in a four-way battle with Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg and Freiburg for 6th and a place in Europe next season.
David Wagner’s men currently occupy that spot but there’s a clear 10-point gap between them and 5th placed Bayer Leverkusen which is a fair representation of the gulf in quality.
In all honesty, the Royal Blues have been poor this season and can count themselves quite lucky to be where they are. Their underlying process has been that of a bottom half team but they’ve got the breaks when they’ve needed them and been clinical when they get the chances.
On the Expected Points (xP) metric the Gelsenkirchen outfit would be sitting as low as 15th and only Dusseldorf and rock bottom Paderborn post worse attacking xG figures. The break may have allowed Wagner to try rectify these issues at the top of the pitch but on the large sample size of data I can’t be onboard with the ‘04ers In this clash, even with their decent recent record in this fixture.
Dortmund, on the other hand, have had no problems creating regular goalscoring opportunities. They’re averaging a mammoth 3.20 goals per-game at home under their coach Lucien Favre, one of the best efforts in Europe. What’s more, in Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, Marco Reus and Erling Haaland they boast one of the deadliest attacking quartets on the planet.
I won’t divulge too much on them because everyone knows just how good they are, but taking a look at the numbers it’s sure to frighten their opponents. Sancho boasts 14 goals and 15 assists in 21 starts whereas Haaland has already knocked in nine goals and he’s only started five games! Hazard has also hit double figures for assists and the evergreen Reus has chipped in with 11 goals and five assists. It’s a scary prospect.
The betting angles
With that firepower and Schalke’s lack of it, I’m happy to take up the 9/10 (BetVictor) quotes on Dortmund with a -1 start on the Asian Handicap. This bet would see us paid out should BVB win by two or more goals but it gives us the safety net of our money back should they win by the single goal. The only way we lose is if Schalke avoid defeat.
I’m also happy to dip my toe into the player props market and it’s for a bet I’ve had earmarked for a while. With Emre Can and Axel Witsel both ruled out for the hosts, it’s highly likely that former Leverkusen attacking midfielder Julian Brandt will have to drop back into a more defensive role alongside Thomas Delaney.
Brandt has been priced up in the tackle market as a forward and not a holding midfielder and I’m hoping we can take advantage of the bookies missing this one.
His averages aren’t particularly high but in games where he’s occupied a deeper role we’ve seen him hit four tackles versus Dusseldorf and Leipzig, three against Mainz and Paderborn and two against Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg as well as two in both late cameo appearances off the bench against Koln and Frankfurt.
What gives me greater confidence with this selection is the possibility of him having to deal with Schalke’s main man, Amine Harit. Harit is the most fouled player in the Bundesliga and it’s because he’s always candid to dribble with the ball and be direct. It’s no surprise to see he is dispossessed more than any of his team mates, 2.5 times per-game in fact. This makes his direct opposition a good thing in the tackle market.
Konrad Laimer, defensive midfielder for Leipzig picked up four tackles against them. Mainz holding midfield partnership of Danny Latza and Leandro Martins racked up a monstrous 13 tackles combined against Schalke too in a recent game. Central midfielders Seb Vasiliadis and Ben Zoilinski for Paderborn had three and four apiece also.
It’s a common theme and with Delaney having a line of four before you hit an odds against price I’m happy to take Brandt on a few lines as I think there’s a lot of value. I’ll back him 2+ tackles at 4/5, 3+ tackles at 9/4 and 4+ tackles at 11/2 all with Coral on the BuildYourBet feature.
Brandt has a pretty impeccable disciplinary record with just the one card this season which came in the Champions League. But given Harit is the most fouled player in the league and this is a derby after all, the 9/1 (Unibet) quotes about him to be booked look too bulbous to not have a small go on.
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – Borussia Dortmund -1 Asian Handicap (9/10 BetVictor)
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – Borussia Dortmund – Julian Brandt 2+ tackles (4/5 Coral)
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – Borussia Dortmund – Julian Brandt 3+ tackles (9/4 Coral)
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – Borussia Dortmund – Julian Brandt 4+ tackles (11/2 Coral)
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – Borussia Dortmund – Julian Brandt to be carded (9/1 Unibet)