After a disappointing 2-0 defeat against local rivals FC Schalke last weekend, the 152nd Revierderby was given even more importance and spice with a higher league position on offer for both clubs.
In recent years, Dortmund have been the side to boast the bragging rights, in this case, having finished ahead of their rivals for 8 years. Along with Schalke not winning a derby for almost three and a half years, perhaps yesterday’s performance shows that the tide is changing.
This raises the question: How many of the Schalke starting XI from the weekend would get into this Dortmund side, replacing some of the current Dortmund line-up?
Below I take a look at what a combined Borussia Dortmund & FC Schalke XI would look like and why I’ve chosen some of the particular players:
Borussia Dortmund & FC Schalke XI
GK: Ralf Fahrmann
A well-recognised goalkeeper in the Bundesliga, Fahrmann has been playing at the highest level for almost 12 years and would be a real brick-wall at the back of this combined XI.
The German international has kept 12 clean sheets in 30 games so far in the league which beats Dortmund’s Roman Burki who has only kept 10 this season.
Burki has also been more mistake prone this season and has not been the same safe pair of gloves he has been in the last few years.
Fahrmann also beats Burki in other key areas of his goalkeeping stats with his average goals conceded (1.14 to Burki’s 1.32) and average saves per goal (1.63 to Burki’s 1.32) beating the Swiss international.
RB: Lukasz Piszczek
The 32-year-old has been one of Dortmund’s most consistent performers not just this season, but for the last few seasons as well and is fully deserved of his place in this team.
This along with the fact that Schalke do not typically play with four-at-the-back formation make Piszczek an obvious choice for this team.
Even though he only played 20 games in the Bundesliga, he has still managed to achieve 3 assists from full-back showing his prowess going forward.
The Polish international is a player who will provide both attacking threat and defending ability at the back so he would be a solid and credible choice in this XI.
Even at 35-years-old, Naldo has still managed to play all 30 games of the Bundesliga so far from start to finish of each game. This signifies how well-looked after the Brazilian has kept himself after 14 years of the professional game.
He is also a real leader which is what I feel this Dortmund is currently missing as he, on numerous occasions in the Revierderby would cover for one of his other defenders superbly or recover from an initial mistake.
Not many of the Dortmund side have been doing that this season and is arguably how they’ve conceded so many sloppy goals this year.
Naldo also provides an attacking threat as well both from set-pieces as we saw from his thunderous free-kick against Dortmund yesterday which encapsulated what a monster Naldo would be in this team.
CB: Omer Toprak
Toprak is very similar to Naldo in the sense that he makes a real difference when he plays, both through his own performance and he also brings a mutual level of confidence in the rest of his defensive back-line.
The Turkey international also offers a technical ability on the ball which allows his team to play out from the back and feel confident in doing so, maintaining an average successful passing percentage of 90.9%.
These two centre-halves are arguably the two ‘better’ defenders which is why I feel if you were to play the two together it would make this combined XI a much stronger force than usual or if the two were separate.
LB: Thilo Kehrer
Although the 21-year-old is traditionally a centre-back, Kehrer played at left-back during the Revierderby and he played exceptionally.
The German is a real talent and the fact he can play in numerous positions such as full-back and central midfield, makes him all the more valuable in the modern game. He has been playing in the top level of Germany for two years now, meaning even at his young age, he is still able to play at the top level for several years still.
The defender was really impressive, coming up against another young prospect in Christian Pulisic and kept the young American quiet all game, showing that he is fully deserved of his place in this starting XI.
CM: Mahmoud Dahoud
Mahmoud Dahoud is another young prospect who has shown in previous games that he can become a real top player if he continues to work hard both in training and in games.
Admittedly, the German has had a mixed season so far, coming in and out of the side with the odd run in the side when performing at his best. Having said this, the youngster has still got the joint highest number of assist for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga with 4.
His potential was shown best during the 3-0 victory against VfB Stuttgart where the youngster showed that he has the ability to control play in the centre of midfield and dictate the speed at which his side will play.
Dahoud can play at the highest level and be the play-making lynchpin people expect him to be in a few years, but it’s important that he continues to push himself and show why he deserves to be in this starting XI.
CM: Leon Goretzka
The fact that Goretzka will be joining top side Bayern Munich in the summer is full-credit to his credit and reputation not just in the Bundesliga, but in the rest of Europe with many top sides keeping an eye on the youngster.
His ability to do anything on the pitch both when going forward and tracking back is vital in any successful team and his technical ability is exactly what’s needed in this starting XI.
His tally of 4 goals and 4 assists in 22 games in the league shows that he is capable of providing for his team both when it comes to scoring the goals or setting them up for his team-mates.
Goretzka is still only 23, meaning he has a lot of professional football ahead of him and the partnership between him and Dahoud could be a real good mix for years to come.
RM: Christian Pulisic
The young American has been a real attacking spark for Dortmund this season, similarly to what Omer Toprak has been for the side defensively, there is a clear difference when he’s playing to when he isn’t.
The wide-man did have a disappointing game in this weekend’s Revierderby but that’s thanks to another young prospect selected for this team: Thilo Kehrer.
The 19 year-old has 4 goals and 4 assists which is the 5th highest number in goals and joint highest in assists having only played some of the season through being injured.
Even at his young age, he has already played 66 games for Dortmund showing much like Kehrer and Goretzka that he is capable of playing at the highest level for many years to come.
LM: Yehven Konoplyanka
The Ukrainian was arguably the man-of-the-match in the Revierderby and gave an experienced defender in Lukasz Piszczek a real run-around, showing the kind of form that had many clubs in Europe after him when playing for Dnipro.
The wide-man has not had the best of seasons with 3 goals and 4 assists but I feel that a long run and confidence instilled back into Konoplyanka will get him playing back to his best once again.
If his performance last weekend was anything to go by, then it was proof that he can be a real nuisance in this side and can perform at a higher level than any of Dortmund’s current wide-man.
However, a special mention should go to Maximillian Phillip who has been another one of Dortmund’s better players this season.
CAM: Marco Reus
Marco Reus has long been the star player for this Dortmund side and his inclusion is more of a necessity rather than a possibility.
His season has been plagued by injury but in games, he’s played he’s made a real difference, both in personal performance and confidence to perform in others.
Despite only playing 7 games in the Bundesliga, he’s still managed 3 goals which puts him right up there with the remainder of the top scorers in the Borussia Dortmund side.
Reus, much like he is in the current Dortmund side would be a real game-changer and world-class player that many world-class teams need in order to achieve both domestic and European success.
ST: Michy Batshuayi
The Belgian forward had come in for former go-to goal-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and he’s made a real difference since joining in January.
Batshuayi already has 7 goals in 10 games which is almost as much as Guido Burgstaller for Schalke who has 10, signifying how important his signature was back at the start of the year.
Despite not having the best game against Schalke, he’s still proven in the last three months that he’s able to play at the top level with a top club like Borussia Dortmund.
He is exactly what this team needs, a real dynamic forward who can score all kinds of goals but has also playing in this formation (4-2-3-1) for a while, but is successful in it as well.
So what does this mean?
So, a total of 5 Schalke players out of the 11 which I feel would not only make a difference, but improve this Dortmund side massively, who will be looking for some real investment once the summer transfer window opens.
The Revierderby result just shows that not only how far Schalke have come in the last few years, but how badly Dortmund have fallen this season. The expression of manager Peter Stoger optimised his side’s attitudes to games at the moment – the sort of laid-back, dismantled figure which needs a lot of reimbursement over the next few months.
The manager should be one of these members who’s replaced as both he and the club seem like they’ve seen enough of each other to move on next season.
Dortmund do, however, need to move on from their frustrating derby defeat as they face another top-four rival in the shape of Bayer Leverkusen next Saturday.
Schalke, meanwhile, will take confidence and form from this victory and will now be looking ahead to their mid-week game against soon-to-be Bayern manager Niko Kovac and his Eintracht Frankfurt side on Wednesday.