Dortmund, Schalke clash in Ruhr Derby
Dortmund, Germany (Sports Network) - Borussia Dortmund got off to a slow start last season on its way to a second successive Bundesliga championship, and the Ruhr Derby on Saturday against Schalke could mark another turning point.
Dortmund has just one loss through seven matches, but with injury concerns and points dropped in four matches, the reigning champions are already nine points off the pace of perfect Bayern Munich.
Borussia coach Jurgen Klopp has seen signs of what is to come, including a 1-1 draw at Manchester City in the Champions League, but with Jakub Blaszczykowski and Mario Gotze ruled out and other players doubtful, Schalke will be tough.
"Our advantage is that we play at home. But that's really the only advantage we've got," Klopp said ahead of the match against teams currently in third and fourth in the standings.
Dortmund suffered three losses and a draw in its first four games last season, but finished the campaign unbeaten in its last 28 matches to set a record for points in a season with 81.
Last season, Dortmund won both games with Schalke, 2-0 at home and 2-1 on the road. But the rivalry always takes on added significance, and with both squads trying to keep pace with Bayern, it is even more crucial this season.
"It's a special game with a special atmosphere between two teams with special qualities," Klopp said. "Despite the pressure, we need to focus on football."
Schalke has four wins and two draws from seven matches, losing only to Bayern. With 14 points, it is two ahead of Dortmund and seven off the top. But Schalke coach Huub Steven believed it was too early to watch the table.
"The table is just a snapshot, nothing has been won or lost yet," Stevens said. "What it does tell us is that two good teams are up against each other."
Despite the tough task at Signal Iduna Park, Stevens said Schalke will visit its rival with intentions of picking up three points.
"Borussia are an excellent team who have won the league twice in a row. It's no easy task, but we don't intend to hide," Stevens said.
Bayern will try to set a league record with eight successive wins to start the season, as it visits surprising Dusseldorf. Bayern Munich has won all seven of its matches and out outscored opponents, 21-2.
But Bayern, with most of its squad away during the international break, cannot overlook the promoted side.
"We must be aware it'll be a tough match," said Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng.
Dusseldorf was unbeaten in its first six, but suffered a 1-0 loss to Mainz in its last match before the international break.
"If we throw everything into it and a lot of things go our way, we could survive against Bayern," Dusseldorf defender Johannes van den Bergh said.
Also Saturday, second-place Eintracht hosts fifth-place Hannover in the second key top-half club. Promoted Eintracht was unbeaten in its first six, including five wins, but lost its most recent match against Monchengladbach.
Bayer Leverkusen hosts Mainz, Wolfsburg hosts Freiburg and Werder Bremen hosts Monchengladbach in the other Saturday matches.
On Sunday, Nurnberg will try to snap a four-match losing streak when it hosts Augsburg, and Hamburg tests a four-game unbeaten run when it hosts Stuttgart.
On Friday, Lasse Sobiech scored three minutes into stoppage time as promoted Greuther Furth erased a deficit for the third time to draw Hoffenheim, 3-3, on Friday at Rhein-Neckar Arena.
Roberto Firmino scored the first goal of the match for Hoffenheim, and Joselu added brace for the hosts, but Zoltan Stieber and Edgar Prib also scored for Furth.
10/19 16:42:18 ET