Why Borussia Dortmund and Schalke are rivals: Dog bites, comebacks and mutual respect as the biggest derby in Germany takes centre stage

The fierce rivalry between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke goes back a long way and is known as ‘the mother of all derbies’ in the Bundesliga.

Two of football’s most passionate fans fight for the Revierderby bragging rights in Germany’s industrial heartlands.

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Schalke vs Borussia Dortmund is a fierce rivalry
Getty – Contributor

Supporters will not be allowed in the stadium when the two teams clash on Saturday as the Bundesliga is set to resume but it is likely to be just as feisty.

This derby match is the perfect game to kick-off football amid the coronavirus pandemic and here at talkSPORT.com, we have taken a look at everything you need to know about the game.


The Bundesliga is back!

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke on Saturday and Union Berlin vs Bayern Munich on Sunday.


How did the rivalry come about?

The cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are separated by fewer than 20 miles. Both are in the Ruhr region of Germany and have been at the centre of the country’s coal and steel production for generations.

Both have working class fan bases and are extremely passionate when it comes to their football teams.

The first competitive fixture between the clubs came in 1924/25 season and it took Dortmund 18 years to actually beat Schalke.

The pair were founding members of the Bundesliga back in 1963 and the battle for the Ruhr Valley bragging rights has been constant.

Rivals but with mutual respect

The rivalry may be incredibly fierce but there is a huge amount of mutual respect between the two clubs and they have even helped each other out financially.

In 1974, Dortmund were struggling following relegation and their new Westfalenstadion (now the Signal Iduna Park) had just been built for the 1974 World Cup.

Schalke were invited for the inaugural fixture and agreed to appear without taking a fee and allowed the hosts to keep the gate money.

Schalke later invited Dortmund to officially open their new stadium in 2001.

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Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann played for both Schalke and Dortmund
Getty – Contributor

Crazy moments

There have been plenty of mad moments over the years in this famous match.

In September 1969, Schalke took the lead in front of 40,000 fans at Dortmund’s Rote Erde Stadium causing the Royal Blues fans to storm the pitch.

The police released their dogs to try and regain control but one named Rex instead bit Schalke defender Friedel Rausch and teammate Gerd Neuser was also bitten on the thigh.

Rausch later received 500 Deutsche Marks and a bouquet of flowers from Dortmund as an apology.

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Schalke defender Friedel Rausch was bitten by a dog in the match in 1969
Getty – Contributor

The match is also famous for incredible comebacks, especially in recent years.

Jens Lehmann became the first goalkeeper to score from open play in the Bundesliga in 1997 when he scored from a corner for Schalke to grab a last-gasp draw.

In Jurgen Klopp’s first derby as Dortmund coach in 2008, he found his team 3-0 down inside 54 minutes.

His team fought back to 3-2 before Schalke had two players sent off in the space of three minutes.

Dortmund were then awarded a penalty in the 89th minute to complete an incredible comeback.

In the 2017/18 season, Dortmund raced to a 4-0 lead after just 25 minutes before Schalke made a stunning second half comeback and managed to draw 4-4.

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Jurgen Klopp managed Dortmund between 2008 and 2015
Getty – Contributor

Who has the bragging rights

In terms of league titles, Dortmund edge it eight to seven but Schalke have not won it since 1958.

Jurgen Klopp’s back-to-back Bundesliga success in 2010/11 and 2011/12 meant the club leapfrogged their rival.

Dortmund also have the edge in head-to-head meeting winning on 34 occasions while Schalke have 32 to their name. A total of 30 matches have also ended in a draw.

What the players and managers are saying

Schalke boss David Wagner told The Times: “On one side it’s strange to speak about football and speak about playing the derby, Dortmund against Schalke, next weekend and on the other side, to the left and the right, people are dying all over Europe, all over the world.

“It’s a very strange situation but, for me personally, I say, ‘OK, we have to do our job and we like to save our business as well’.”

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David Wagner is the current Schalke manager
Getty – Contributor

Dortmund manager Lucien Favre told Bild: “We are used to playing at home in front of 82,000. To prepare mentally now to play without being cheered and without being pushed by the atmosphere is an extreme challenge.”

Giovanni Reyna told Dortmund’s YouTube channel: “I’ve never seen a derby live or played in one so of course, I’ve been really looking forward to this game. They’re a great team but I think if we play the way we can play then we can win. It’s going to be a high-intensity game with or without fans.”


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