BERLIN (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund have been told to forget about social distancing and get stuck into arch-rivals Schalke in tonight’s (12.30am Brunei time) derby as they look to challenge RB Leipzig at the top of the Bundesliga.
Sports Director Michael Zorc was fuming as Dortmund crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Lazio in Rome on Tuesday in their opening Champions League game after standing back from too many tackles.
COVID-19 has cast a shadow over the Bundesliga this week with Werder Bremen, who host Hoffenheim tomorrow, cancelling training on Thursday after an unnamed player tested positive.
Second-place Bayern Munich will face Eintracht Frankfurt tonight without Germany winger Serge Gnabry who sat out Wednesday’s 4-0 thumping of Atletico Madrid after a positive test for the virus. As Germany recorded record high figures of the coronavirus on Thursday, most league games will be played behind closed doors.
Just 300 home fans will be allowed to watch in Dortmund, whose boss Zorc urged his side not to keep their distance when defending against second-from-bottom Schalke.
“We observed the distancing rules when defending” against Lazio, “in exemplary fashion. We want to see a reaction,” said Zorc drily ahead of the derby.
Dortmund are third in the table, level with defending champions Bayern on nine points and just one behind leaders Leipzig.
Erling Braut Haaland, who scored Dortmund’s consolation goal in Rome, also netted as Schalke crashed to a 4-0 thrashing last May on their previous visit to Dortmund.
Zorc wants to see “fight and emotion” from the home side.
Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke are winless in their last 20 Bundesliga games and would love nothing more than to break their run at neighbours Dortmund.
Schalke assistant coach Naldo knows all about getting a result at Signal Iduna Park.
The Brazilian’s last-gasp header in 2017 capped a stunning fight-back from four goals down as Schalke sealed a 4-4 draw away from home.
“Schalke will have a lot of passion, discipline and commitment – they will want to ruin our game,” warned Zorc.
Tensions are running extra high between the clubs after a racist incident last weekend.
Dortmund prodigy Youssoufa Moukoko, 15, received alleged death threats and racist abuse from Schalke fans after scoring a hat-trick in last Sunday’s 3-2 win in an Under-19 derby in Gelsenkirchen.
Schalke have apologised and are investigating the allegations.
Dortmund are without centre-back Manuel Akanji, who is recovering from the coronavirus, and winger Thorgan Hazard who has a leg knock.
Midfield enforcer Emre Can is available after missing the Lazio defeat with suspension.