TITANIC CLASH Schalke Dortmund do battle in historic 100th R

เวลา:2023-03-12  คลิก:

While Dortmunds unbeaten Bundesliga start to 2023 may not come as too much of a surprise given their lofty position in the table, their local rivals Schalke are the only other side in the division who have not suffered defeat since Matchday 17.

The Black-Yellows have been imperious, winning all of their eight league matches this year, but Schalkes path has been a little more unconventional.

After four consecutive goalless draws, Die Königsblauen have won each of their previous two outings against fellow relegation candidates VfB Stuttgart and Bochum. Its the first time since the 2005/06 campaign that they have not lost in the first six matches of the top-flights second half of the season, a streak which gives manager Thomas Reis something to build on.

Rarely in recent years has the Revierderby been a fixture between two in-form teams, adding even more intrigue to this weekends match-up.

In fact, much of Dortmunds Europe-leading form over the years first eight league fixtures has come thanks to an impressive forward line. No other side in the division has scored as many as their 22 goals in 2023, while they also lead the way in terms of shots (130).

Most importantly for Edin Terzics men, they have become far more efficient in the final third. Prior to the winter break, they struggled to find a clinical edge, scoring 3.8 fewer goals than their xG tally indicated they should have. However, since the 2022 World Cup, they have turned that poor record on its head and are now outperforming their xG by 7.7 strikes.

There are other positives for Terzic, too no side in the Bundesliga has scored as many as their seven from set-pieces since December, while their five goals by substitutes over that same time period is a league-high. US international Giovanni Reyna, alone, has three of those.

Although Dortmund could be without the in-form Julian Brandt, who suffered a hamstring injury during Tuesdays UEFA Champions League last 16 second-leg defeat to Chelsea, and Karim Adeyemi against Schalke, they have more than enough firepower elsewhere to cause plenty of problems.

Meanwhile, Schalkes defensive improvement has, quite frankly, been astounding. After conceding 41 goals during the first half of the season, the worst record in the Bundesliga, they have shipped on just one occasion in the six games since a number no other outfit has been able to match.

They have been far less generous, facing less than 10 shots in four of those six matches and keeping five clean sheets along the way.

The turnaround has been a team effort, but two players deserve special recognition. Alexander Schwolow was the first choice between the sticks under Frank Kramer but, although Reis stuck with the 30-year-old during the early weeks of his reign, he reinstated Ralf Fährmann for Matchday 18.

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