Bundesliga: Dortmund faces Ruhr derby test to keep pace with Bayern

While Dortmund needs a win to keep the heat on league leader Bayern Munich in the title race, Schalke could all but secure Bundesliga survival with victory in the derby.

Dortmund is undefeated at home this season in the Bundesliga.   -  REUTERS

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Thomas Delaney has warned his team to take nothing for granted in Saturday's high-stakes derby at home to struggling rival Schalke.

The two grand old clubs from Germany's industrial Ruhr region meet for the 154th time in a competitive match on Saturday, with both of them under pressure to pick up three points.

While Dortmund needs a win to keep the heat on league leader Bayern Munich in the title race, Schalke could all but secure Bundesliga survival with victory in the derby.

Just 35 kilometres separates the two teams geographically, but they are worlds apart in footballing terms this season, with Dortmund in second and Schalke in 15th.

Yet Danish midfielder Delaney has warned that the table means nothing on derby day.

“The derby has a life of its own, so where we are in the table doesn't mean anything,” he said on Thursday.

On form alone, Dortmund is clear favourite. Schalke has won only once away from home this season - against bottom club Hanover - while Dortmund is yet to lose at home.

While Delaney and co. wrapped up a confidence-boosting 4-0 win in Freiburg last week, Schalke was thrashed 5-2 by Hoffenheim. Nonetheless, the Dane is expecting an “intense” game.

“It probably won't be the most attractive game. I don't think we are going to win 9-2,” he said.

Dortmund coach Lucien Favre has said that there is no extra pressure on Dortmund in the derby.

“The pressure is always there. We want to win this important game,” he said on Thursday.

- 'I can't speak honestly' -

Favre's opposite number Huub Stevens, meanwhile, claimed that both sides were feeling the heat.

“We can't pretend otherwise: they are playing for the title, and we are fighting for something else,” the veteran Dutch coach said on Thursday.

“We are both under pressure, but they have positive pressure.”

Schalke is six points clear of the bottom three and could effectively guarantee survival with a win against Dortmund.

Yet Stevens' preparations for the derby have been overshadowed by disciplinary issues.

The interim coach has banished Nabil Bentaleb to the reserve team for the second time this season after the Algerian midfielder missed a pre-training German lesson on Wednesday.

Fixtures (GMT)

Friday

Augsburg v Bayer Leverkusen (1830)

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke, RB Leipzig v Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt v Hertha Berlin, Hanover v Mainz, Fortuna Duesseldorf v Werder Bremen (1330), Stuttgart v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1630)

Sunday

Hoffenheim v Wolfsburg (1330), Nuremberg v Bayern Munich (1600)