Dortmund-Schalke, the passionate "Ruhr derby", will smell like sulfur on Saturday (6.30 p.m.): the two clubs are, for different reasons, in crisis, and a defeat could have consequences, especially in Dortmund.
Instead of an erupting "Yellow Wall", Borussia will have to be content for this fifth day of the Bundesliga with 300 spectators, wisely distributed throughout the stadium, due to coronavirus.
The Yellow and Black, third tied with Munich and one point behind the leader Leipzig, would however need some extra soul.
After their poor performance Wednesday in the Champions League in Rome (3-1 defeat against Lazio), the criticisms that overwhelm them for two seasons have resurfaced: despite a brilliant workforce, the team has lost its fighting spirit, and the Swiss coach Lucien Favre is accused of being unable to instill the missing passion in his troops.
"In Rome, we scrupulously respected the social distance in defense," squeaked sports director Michael Zorc, in a fit of biting irony.
"Against Schalke, we want to show a reaction: combat, commitment and emotion".
Three virtues too often forgotten in Dortmund in recent seasons.
Points lost, while Borussia leaves largely favorite, would destabilize Favre even more, very hard attacked by commentators, even if his leaders support him fondly from the start.
On the Schalke side, a victory in the derby, considered by many fans to be the most important game of the year, would be a flash in a dark night.
The club remains in 20 consecutive games without a win in the Bundesliga, and lags after four days in 17th and penultimate position with only one point, in a relegation position.
Certainly the coach Manuel Baum, who has just been appointed at the end of September to replace the dismissed David Wagner, is not yet in danger.
But the team, which has already conceded 16 goals and returned only 2, has totally lost confidence in itself.
"It would be a huge story if we managed to put the same passion against Dortmund as against Union Berlin," Baum said on Friday.
Last week, Schalke took their only point of the season by pulling a 1-1 draw at home against the Union, after being trailed.
This is to say if the ambitions of the "royal blue" do not go very far.
And if this derby will be, for once, a derby of fear.
© 2020 AFP