Revierderby Preview: How Schalke can stop Dortmund

On Sunday, all hell breaks loose when Borussia Dortmund hosts Schalke 04 for the 86th mother of all Bundesliga derbies: the Revierderby. The big question is: how on earth will Schalke be able to stop Dortmund’s fierce attack?

Die Borussen have 26 points from eleven games, scoring 32 goals in the process. Dortmund have lost only once, when Bayern beat them 5-1, and have won their last three games leading up to the clash with Schalke.

Die Königsblauen are ranked fourth with 20 points,but have just four points from their last four league games.

Missing Key Players

It’s obvious that Dortmund are the clear-cut favourite to win this Revierderby, despite missing key player Marco Reus due to a hamstring injury. Die Borussen have enough depth to replace Reus. Gonzalo Castro, Adnan Januzaj, or even Jonas Hofmann could fill in for the winger.

But Schalke are also missing a few important players, with the latest to go down being Benedikt Höwedes, who’s out with a hand injury. Schalke’s captain will probably be replaced by Roman Neustädter in central defense. Sead Kolasinac, Kaan Ayhan. and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg are all options to replace the suspended Johannes Geis in central midfield.

One-Sided Offensive Stats

The problem for Schalke has been scoring goals. They have only marked 14 times so far, while conceding 13 goals for a goal-differential of only +1; Dortmund have a goal-differential of +19. BVB top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored almost as many goals(13) as the whole of the Schalke team combined(14).

Dortmund have found the back of the net in each of their last 18 Bundesliga games since a 1-0 defeat to Bayern in April 2015. But die Borussen have also conceded more than one goal in a game this season only three times. Die Knappen therefore won’t win the offensive battle, that’s for sure. They will have to find another way to beat their archrival.


Schalke have to take the fight to Dortmund. Their defensive performance will be the difference. But how on earth will they be able to stop Dortmund’s deadly attack?

One thing’s for sure: Schalke can’t go back to the 5-4-1 lineup which Roberto Di Mateo used in last season’s Revierderby at the Signal Iduna Park. Schalke tried to defend its way to a point, but was overrun by Dortmund and lost 3-0. Die Klappen only attempted three shots on goal, while Dortmund fired 31.

Schalke coach André Breitenreiter has used two different tactical lineups this season. Seven times he has deployed a 4-4-2, four times a 4-2-3-1. The first tactic has gained Schalke 14 points (67%) and two away wins. The second tactic has gained Schalke six points (50%) and one away win.

How about a 3-5-2?

The BVB are using a 4-1-4-1 lineup, with Julian Weigl as a defensive midfielder behind four offensive minded players who feed Aubameyang. Considering the aforementioned results, it should seem logical for Breitenreiter to deploy a 4-4-2 lineup against them, but Breitenreiter should really consider playing a 3-5-2 lineup.

Here’s why.

The Royal Blues took home a draw against Bayern last season using this formation. They crowded the midfield, leaving little space for their opponents to work their magic and keeping them away from the box. This tactic uses a ‘bowl’ in midfield. For example: Höjbjerg playing the role of defensive midfielder, with Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer on each side of him, and Leroy Sané mirroring Kolasinac on the wings.

This would allow Schalke to absorb most of Dortmund’s offensive pressure and, more importantly, cut off the passing feed to Aubameyang. Shinji Kagawa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have combined for nine assists, so smothering their effectiveness will be key for Schalke.

Die Klappen will be vulnerable on the wing, as Sané and Kolasinac will have to run like crazy to keep the team’s balance intact. But Schalke should just take their chances by avoiding a defensive war it simply cannot win. Using a 3-5-2 formation gives them ther best shot at gaining at least one point in the Can .

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Vincent van Genechten

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