BERLIN (Reuters) – There are few things that can lift the spirits of Borussia Dortmund fans, and help them forget a stuttering start to the Bundesliga, like a win over Ruhr valley rivals Schalke 04.
So that is exactly what coach Juergen Klopp’s team will look to deliver on Saturday given Dortmund’s failure to sparkle in the German league so far.
Two wins and two defeats were followed by a last-gasp 2-2 draw against struggling VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday as last season’s runners-up struggle to cope with a string of injuries, including the absence of their entire first choice midfield.
“Besides the three points, there are a lot more brownie points to be won with our fans in a game like this,” said defender Neven Subotic.
“We all know that a derby victory over Schalke can last the whole year. That is our big aim, to beat Schalke.”
Subotic, only recently back from a cruciate ligament tear that saw him miss most of last season, could be partnered from the start with fellow central defender Mats Hummels.
The Dortmund captain and fellow central defender made a brief second half appearance against Stuttgart in his season debut with his defensive work much needed.
“Mats is crucial for us. He does not allow anything at the back and that is what we need these days,” said Subotic.
Hummels warned their defence would need to come together if they were to return to their winning ways.
“We need defensive stability because we have already let in nine goals in five (league) games,” the World Cup winner said.
“That is a very bad ratio. We have to defend as a team because it is only like that that you can be successful.”
For Schalke the game presents an equally good opportunity to convince their fans that their own bad start is now a thing of the past, especially after Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Werder Bremen, their first victory of the season.
“We do not need to motivate anyone for this duel,” said Schalke coach Jens Keller. “It is the greatest derby in the country and we are looking forward to it.”
He will be without suspended midfielder Julian Draxler but will have playmaker Kevin-Prince Boateng back after he sat out his one-match ban for a dismissal last week.
Leaders Bayern, on 11 points, travel to promoted Cologne while Bayer Leverkusen, a point behind in second place, take on Freiburg.