Schalke’s return to the Bundesliga revives the Revierderby, arguably Germany’s biggest and most genuine competition

In this edition of his column, ESPN’s top Bundesliga commentator Derek Ray explains the organic allure of live derbywho returns on saturday (9 a.m. ET, Streaming live on ESPN+ and ESPN2) After an absence of 18 months. Why is Borussia Dortmund talking against Schalke for itself?

Railway stations are part of the life and breathing ritual of attending German football matches. As you wait for packed local train packages of interesting shapes and sizes, you get to experience the emotion and sometimes the humor that accompanies the game in its most authentic form.

He was standing in Dortmund HPV (“Central train stationIt means ‘main station’) after the Germany-Scotland qualifiers in Dortmund in 2003 which saw one of the funniest episodes. I spoke to a couple of Germany fans, and I realized that I was Scottish, they started to think intensely about a match with me, which Germany won 2-1 But quickly and awkwardly, the conversation shifted to the environment in which we were, the bustling Ruhrpott or Revier – once the undisputed center of European heavy industry – and the associated football culture.

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It turns out that one of them was a fan of Borussia Dortmund while the other devoted his life to his local team in nearby Gelsenkirchen, Schalke 04. Forget about loneliness for one night for the national team. The rest of our conversation revolved around the pair’s mutual insults only being exchanged with a slight hint of a smile.

There is a code name for live derby and that is “Ludenscheid North vs. Herne West. Dortmund is to the north of Ludenscheid, while Gelsenkirchen is to the west of Herne. It’s a different way of saying: Don’t mention this team in my presence! There is no love for the other.

This derby has a charm of its own, and while some fans may not agree with that, I’ve always felt since standing on the stands for my first encounter, that the reason is as much about the bonds as football tradition that separates the two groups of fans.

There is no religious or political division between the two clubs or societies, just a sports brawl going back to the 1920s, albeit fiercely contested. As the match has grown and grown in stature through the decades, the only constant has been that there is nothing artificial or contrived about Dortmund’s Schalke, and workers in steel mills or who have gone to coal mines together for a living still differ fiercely about football loyalties.

Unlike the big English cities with multiple big clubs, their German counterparts mostly tend to revolve around a large in-city football entity. Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are only 25 miles apart, and there is little evidence of leaving one and reaching the other, whether by train or car, given the densely populated nature of the entire Ruhrgebeit region. Yes, this is a common community, but with a definite advantage.

The match had its fair share of epic and memorable moments. One of them, in 1969, featured a Schalke player, Friedel Rausch, who was bitten in the buttocks by a dog, a German Shepherd named Rex.

When Hans Berkner gave the royals a lead at Dortmund’s old Rote Erde Stadion, it sparked a wave of fans. Unsure of what to do, the security staff literally let the dogs out and poor Rauch paid the ultimate price, suffering as he said “pain like hell.” However, after receiving a tetanus shot, he somehow completed the 90 minutes with a 1-1 draw – although he had to sleep on his stomach for several days afterward.

During the seventies, eighties and even the nineties, every club found themselves in the wrong division for a period, absent live derby Definitely make the heart grow fonder. In 1991, after downing Schalke 04 for three years, he stunned Dortmund, edging out on paper 5-2 at Parkstadion. Always expect the unexpected in these controversies.

We have to talk about the end of the 2006-07 season, when Schalke was finally in a position to win their first league title since 1958. Of course it should have been Dortmund, though with little to play for, who stopped them in the penultimate round. , beating them 2-0 and eventually allowing VfB Stuttgart to claim Cup Championship. Needless to say, a generation of Dortmund supporters celebrated the occasion for a long time.

Then there was a comeback too, as it did in the beginning with Jurgen Klopp live derby In 2008-09, when Dortmund came from 3-0 down to equalize the match at death thanks to a penalty kick from Alexander Frei. But you cannot discuss the history of Dortmund-Schalke without referring to the November 2017 meeting.

Stephen Freund, who played for both clubs, was Lee’s co-commentator on the Bundesliga’s global broadcast in Dortmund that day, and we could hardly believe it as BVB took a 4-0 lead after just 25 minutes. An unprecedented defeat appeared on the cards, but Schalke settled down and gradually began to eat in black and yellow and their interest.

4-1 with Guido Burgstaller became 4-2 thanks to Amin Harit. They couldn’t, could they? When did the weather change? Daniel Caligori He reduced the arrears to 4-3 in the 86th minute and with Dortmund visibly nervous, the mood seemed set for another Schalke goal. Arriving four minutes into injury time, Naldo’s header burns forever in Rohrbot folklore.

As a commentator, you are just trying to feel these special moments. I exclaimed intuitively, “Naldo! this is That’s why they call it the mother of all derbies.”

Come Saturday, it will be 564 days since the past live derby, which is the result of Schalke’s first drop in more than three decades. The past three meetings were all ghost games (“Ghost Games”) without fans, or in one case with only 300 allowed due to the pandemic background.

So, if you’re ready to lose yourself in the frenzied atmosphere generated by 81,000 – including 7000 in the remote section – join us on ESPN2 or ESPN+, if you’re in the USA. In a weekend dominated by talk of inconsistent synthetic creations like the All-Star Games, there is nothing quite like real, raw, purposeful football shaped by fans and the communities themselves.