There has never been a bigger gap in the standings between leaders Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 ahead of a Ruhr valley derby in the first half of a Bundesliga season.
But Schalke, last season’s runners-up who are languishing in 12th place, know the 19-point gap will count for nothing when they host Dortmund on Saturday in Germany’s ‘mother of all derbies’.
The Royal Blues also hope they can stretch their unbeaten run at home to five years against their in-form rivals, despite their own lacklustre shape.
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Victory over Dortmund would instantly ease most of the pressure on embattled coach Domenico Tedesco, with Schalke having won just two of their last six league games.
“We know that the derby is something special. If we give it everything we’ve got then we can win the derby,” said Schalke midfielder Alessandro Schoepf.
“Dortmund have yet to lose (in the Bundesliga) this season so it’s time. We won at home last season so why should we not do it again?”
Dortmund have so far played a sensational season, having gone unbeaten in the 13 league matches, making new coach Lucien Favre the most successful newcomer in Bundesliga history.
They have also scored a staggering 37 goals in 13 Bundesliga games, with top scorer Paco Alcacer and captain Marco Reus netting a combined 19 times, five more than the entire Schalke haul so far, for the best attack in the league.
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