Erling Haaland picked up where he left off as he celebrated scoring the first goal of the Bundesliga's resumption in Borussia Dortmund's Revierderby against Schalke.

The Norway teenager, a January arrival from Salzburg, had nine goals in eight top-flight appearances before the Bundesliga was halted for two months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Haaland has seemingly not missed a step as he celebrated the opener shortly before the half-hour mark at an empty Signal Iduna Park.

Thorgan Hazard – a late addition into the line-up to replace the injured Giovanni Reyna – sent a cross from the right into the area and Haaland opened up his body before guiding a lovely finish to the right of Markus Schubert.

Dortmund kept their celebrations socially distant, while shortly afterwards Manuel Gulde scored in Freiburg's clash against Werder Bremen where players celebrated by touching elbows.

Haaland has now scored on his Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Champions League and Revierderby debuts for Dortmund.

Raphael Guerreiro scored on the stroke of half-time to give BVB a deserved 2-0 lead at half-time.

Giovanni Reyna was denied a first senior start after sustaining an injury in the warm-up ahead of Borussia Dortmund's Revierderby against Schalke.

The 17-year-old was named in the starting line-up at an empty Signal Iduna Park as the Bundesliga returned from its enforced two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Dortmund posted on Twitter shortly before kick-off to confirm he was unable to play, with Thorgan Hazard taking his place.

"Gio Reyna will be replaced by Thorgan Hazard in the Starting XI as a result of an injury sustained during warm up," Dortmund wrote.

"Get well soon, Gio."

Jadon Sancho was named among the Borussia Dortmund substitutes, while Giovanni Reyna received a first senior start against Schalke on Saturday.

England international Sancho was not included in the starting line-up for the Revierderby at an empty Signal Iduna Park as the Bundesliga returned from a two-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reyna, 17, and Julian Brandt were selected in support of striker Erling Haaland, with Thorgan Hazard and Mario Gotze on the bench and Marco Reus missing out through injury.

With Axel Witsel and Emre Can also unavalible for selection due to injury, Thomas Delaney and Mahmoud Dahoud were drafted into midfield by Lucien Favre.

The hiatus in the season meant Schalke were able to welcome Suat Serdar back from a broken toe, while Salif Sane, who last played in November, returned from a knee injury.

Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard insists he is not afraid by the resumption of the Bundesliga this weekend.

Germany's top flight will be the first of the major European leagues to return behind closed doors since football ground to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, the German government gave the green light for action to resume and Pavard says that is all the reassurance he needs.

Speaking to L'Equipe, he said: "No, I'm not afraid. 

"At the beginning, when we resumed training, it's not fear but we wondered. But I assume that if the government authorises matches, this means that they believe that the conditions are met.

"If today you ask me if I'm happy to play again, I answer you yes. 

"I'm telling you that but maybe we will have to stop the season. There is no such thing as zero risk. Even if the fans will not be there, it may allow people to think about something else.

"There are fans waiting, there are patients or people who have been affected [for] who [it] can do good. 

"Football is a spectacle. A technical gesture, a goal, it can create an emotion, just for that, I tell myself that we can be useful. We will play for them."

Table-toppers Bayern are in action on Sunday at Union Berlin and Pavard recognises some habits will be hard to shake.

"Celebrating with the players, hugging, we cannot [do this]," he added. 

"I don't know how it's going to happen in a match, maybe spontaneously we'll all come together."

Liverpool are apparently looking at a Brazilian teenager who has drawn comparisons to Neymar, while Leroy Sane is set for a Manchester City exit.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are reportedly keen to strengthen this close season, albeit without spending huge amounts.

Sane, meanwhile, has been linked with Bayern Munich, and that move could be getting closer to reality.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL TARGET NEXT NEYMAR

Liverpool are targeting Vasco da Gama forward Talles Magno, according to the Mirror.

Talles, 17, has previously been likened to Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and is a Brazil youth international.

The teenager has already made 22 senior appearances for Vasco da Gama.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with Bayern Munich, Sane could get a move. The Evening Standard reports Manchester City are prepared to sell the Germany international if he refuses to sign an extension, with his contract expiring next year.

- Adrien Rabiot appears set for a Juventus exit. L'Equipe reports the midfielder wants to join Premier League outfit Everton.

- Manchester United and Wolves seemingly know what they will need to pay if they want Carlos Vinicius. The Mirror reports Benfica have told the Premier League clubs they must pay at least £89.4million (€100m) for the striker.

- On loan at Newcastle United from Inter, Valentino Lazaro could be set for a longer stay. The Sun reports Newcastle are in talks over a £21.25m (€23.8m) deal for the midfielder.

- Jeremy Sarmiento is catching the eye. The Sun reports the England youth and Benfica forward is a target for several clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

Bundesliga leaders and defending champions Bayern Munich make their return to action at Union Berlin in Sunday's late kick-off.

The first of Europe's top five leagues to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, Germany's top flight gets back under way on Saturday.

Bayern could see their advantage at the summit cut to just one point if Borussia Dortmund beat rivals Schalke.

Hansi Flick's side are then involved in one of two Sunday matches - before another follows on Monday.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the key numbers from the final three fixtures of this matchweek.
 

Cologne v Mainz

8 - Mainz have not won on any of their eight Bundesliga trips to Cologne (D4 L4). They have not faced any other side away in the top flight as often without winning. Meanwhile, only against Eintracht Braunschweig (20 games) do Cologne have a better unbeaten home Bundesliga record.

24 - Cologne have won eight of their past 11 league games, losing only to leaders Bayern, second-placed Dortmund and fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach. Since matchweek 15, they have collected 24 points - trailing only Bayern (31) and BVB (25).

7 - January loan signing Mark Uth has been involved in at least one goal in each of his first seven league games for Cologne (four goals, four assists).
 

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich

2 - These sides are meeting in a competitive match for just the second time. Their first clash earlier this season ended in a 2-1 Bayern win in Munich.

1866 - Bayern will play their 1866th Bundesliga match, moving level with Hamburg in the all-time list. Only Werder Bremen (1890) have been involved in more top-flight games.

4 - The defending champions have a four-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table for the first time this season. They have never thrown away an advantage this big this late in a season.

3 - Bayern have scored at least three times in each of their past five away league matches, setting a Bundesliga record.

73 - Flick's outfit have 73 goals in their first 25 league games this term. Only Bayern themselves in 1973-74 and 2013-14 (both 24) have topped that tally at this stage of a campaign.

5 - Union have five wins in their past eight home league games, keeping a clean sheet in each of these victories. However, Sunday's hosts have conceded three or more goals in four of their eight matches since the Bundesliga's mid-season break.
 

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen

62 - Leverkusen have scored more away Bundesliga goals at Werder than they have against any other side.

6 - Bremen have lost their six most recent Bundesliga home games, failing to score in each of their past five at home - setting a pair of unwanted club top-flight records.

21 - Werder have dropped more points from winning positions than any other side in the Bundesliga this season.

19 - Bayer have 19 points from their eight matches since the mid-season break, their joint-best ever start to a Ruckrunde (also 19 points from eight games in 1999-2000).

Finally, some good news: elite football is back in Europe.

The Bundesliga season resumes this weekend and will be the first of Europe's top-five leagues to bring back the 2019-20 season.

Of course, this will not be football as we know it. Fans will not be able to attend games, while players and officials will have to follow strict guidelines.

There is also added pressure on everyone concerned to make the sure the restart goes to plan: players will be expected to hit the ground running after a two-month pause, ground staff will have to keep surfaces up to scratch as warmer weather sets in, and club admins will be on overdrive to satisfy social media users desperate for a football fix.

So, how will the players respond? What will games be like with thousands of empty seats? How long will Axel Witsel's afro survive the heat and humidity? Here are four key things to look out for...

1. FIGHTING FIT OR FIGHTING THE FLAB?

Bundesliga games have not been held since March 13, meaning two months have passed since players were last in action.

Clubs assigned home workout routines to players and many were able to resume training in small groups at team bases last month, but, as the adage goes, there is no substitute for the real thing.

Top-flight teams will generally spend weeks of pre-season training and friendly matches to get fully fit for the start of a new campaign after an off-season break of a similar length, so expecting players to be firing on all cylinders for the first weekend of the restart might be a stretch, especially after weeks of confinement at home with the biscuit tin in tantalising reach.

Those who have shown the best commitment to keeping up their cardio may well have a crucial advantage in the coming matchdays.

2. IF YOU CELEBRATE AND THERE ARE NO FANS TO SEE IT...

Borussia Monchengladbach have done excellent work in crafting cardboard cut-outs of supporters to flood the stands of Borussia-Park, but the fact remains these are matches that won't feel the same without bums on seats.

The Bundesliga prides itself on the strength of its supporters, from the Yellow Wall at Signal Iduna Park to the esteemed 50+1 rule that ensures fans will always have a say in the running of their clubs, so playing regular matches behind closed doors will feel a truly alien experience.

Of course, such games sometimes provide unique forms of entertainment. No fan noise means you can hear captains issue rallying cries, coaches berating full-backs for their positioning and strikers demanding an early delivery - or moaning when it doesn't arrive.

It will also encourage plenty of oh-so-amusing ear-cupping or shushing to the empty stands when goals are scored - assuming players are still allowed to celebrate in these days of social distancing.

Speaking of which...

3. HOW DO YOU MAN-MARK FROM TWO METRES AWAY?

As yet, there are no suggestions of players taking to the pitch in masks, surgical gloves, or full biohazard suits. They'd make headers really difficult.

There will, of course, be stringent health and safety measures put in place for teams travelling to and arriving at venues, while personal hygiene and proper handwashing will be paramount and there is even talk of players washing their own kits.

The fact is, though, that the risk of infection can never be entirely removed from matches, as Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke admitted. Football is a contact sport and any notion of encouraging social distancing on the pitch is farcical - unless you're trying to catch Jadon Sancho.

Still, it is hard to know how players will behave on the pitch in the current climes. Handshakes and high-fives will almost certainly be out, but celebrating goals? Jostling at corners? Spitting?

 

4. PITCH (IM)PERFECT

Ground staff have been working tirelessly to keep sports facilities up to scratch during the enforced break, but the coming weeks will still represent a big test for Bundesliga pitches.

As we head into the warmer and dryer months in Germany, it remains to be seen how the turf will hold up to a sudden return of stampeding footballers, and how it will last for the final nine matchdays.

The players might be feeling the heat, too. Germany endured its hottest June day on record last year, with 38.6 degrees Celcius recorded in Coschen, a town on the Polish border. Conditions like these would add a new dimension to title-deciders and relegation six-pointers.

If the weather does become a little too intense, water breaks may have to be introduced - assuming, of course, that they abide by hygiene rules.

Former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Mitch Langerak said there is "absolutely no reason" why Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland should leave the Bundesliga side.

Sancho has been tipped to join Premier League giants Manchester United, while the Dortmund star is also reportedly wanted by Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona.

Haaland – who only arrived at Dortmund from Salzburg in January – is apparently coveted by LaLiga powerhouse Real Madrid following his stunning start to life at Signal Iduna Park.

Langerak spent five years at Dortmund, winning two Bundesliga titles among other honours under Jurgen Klopp, and the Australia international believes there is plenty of time for Sancho and Haaland to eventually move on – pointing to the examples of Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan.

"There's absolutely no reason why any of them should leave," Langerak, who now plays for Japanese side Nagoya Grampus, told Stats Perform. 

"For example, Lewandowski left Dortmund [in 2014] at around 24-25. [He was] smashing it at Dortmund and he's been smashing it at Bayern Munich. Went there as the absolute starting striker. The same as Gundogan. He came at 21 and left at 24-25 [in 2016]. Went to Manchester City and he's killing it.

"There's no rush for those guys to leave when they have the perfect situation. Haaland could go 10 games without a goal and the fans would celebrate him like no tomorrow. They'll never get on his back or criticise him.

"It's the perfect scenario where he has the blessing or support of the whole club and city. It's sort of engrained in Dortmund's tradition to have good, young, hungry players. 

"When the time is right, maybe they will leave, but I don't see why they should when they'll be playing Champions League regularly, hopefully advancing to the latter stages, and pushing for Bundesliga titles. There's only a handful of clubs who are bigger and better than Dortmund."

There is also uncertainty over Mario Gotze's future at Dortmund, where the 27-year-old German is out of contract at the end of the season.

World Cup winner Gotze, who managed just 502 minutes of Bundesliga action prior to the coronavirus pandemic, has been linked to Serie A sides Milan, Roma and Lazio.

"Mario is a really good friend of mine. He was my very first room-mate when I arrived at Dortmund [from Melbourne Victory in 2010]. He is a fantastic, fantastic guy," Langerak said.

"The most professional player – he is up there with Lewandowski in terms of professionalism. It's really good to see two of the absolute players in their prime and they're the most professional, doing the extra work.

"It's difficult for him now. Hopefully he can find a good solution, whatever that might be. I don't think it's been ruled out that he won't stay at Dortmund. That's how it goes with different coaches, systems and players – things change fast. 

"It could be that Mario starts the next couple of games, does well again and the world looks completely different for him. Whatever path he goes down in the future, I'll be following it. I'm sure he will do really well because is very humble, hardworking that wherever he goes, he will make a good impression."

Gotze may get a clearer picture of what the future holds when the Bundesliga resumes on Saturday, with Dortmund hosting bitter rivals Schalke behind closed doors amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Germany's Bundesliga was postponed in March with defending champions Bayern four points clear of Dortmund through 25 matches atop the table.

Langerak, who believes Dortmund can win the title this season, added: "It's positive the Bundesliga is getting back underway because everyone wants to watch some football. Me personally, I can't wait until it kicks off. So, I'll be all over it, like the rest of the world watching every minute.

"Behind closed doors, the atmosphere will be lacking. We played a couple of friendly games maybe two months ago in a big stadium with no fans and it really is a different atmosphere.

"It not only shows to the fans but to the players, far out, football without fans really is nothing. It's going to be a huge challenge for Bundesliga players because they won't be used it. It's a massive, massive difference.

"I can only imagine the first game back for all the players and clubs in front of full stadiums, it's going to be the biggest party and the most exciting thing."

Werder Bremen have confirmed one of their players has been placed in a two-week quarantine a day before the Bundesliga is set to resume.

Football in Germany's top flight is set to return on Saturday, having been suspended since March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Werder explained the unnamed player has not tested positive but that a member of his "personal circle" has contracted COVID-19.

A statement read: "A member of the SV Werder Bremen first team has been placed under a two-week quarantine, after a member of his personal circle tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. 

"Although the player himself tested negative during all previous rounds of testing, the decision to place him under quarantine was made in conjunction with the Bremen health authorities. 

"The player has since tested negative on two occasions."

Sporting director Frank Baumann added: "As a result, our team and our staff are not under any risk. This shows that the medical protocol is working and that infected individuals can be identified early on in order for the necessary measures to be implemented."

The Bundesliga is due to be the first of the major European leagues to resume since being halted due to the coronavirus crisis.

Bremen, who are 17th in the table, are scheduled to face Bayer Leverkusen on Monday.

After more than a two-month pause, top-level European football returns on Saturday with the Bundesliga's resumption – and EA Sports have released their 'Team of the Season So Far' on FIFA Ultimate Team ahead the German top-flight's return.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the first weekend back will be the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, while pacesetters Bayern Munich go to Union Berlin.

For many football fans out there, gaming will have played a significant role in filling the void left behind by the real thing over the past two months – and FIFA 20 is giving Bundesliga fanatics extra reason to stick around with its boosted cards.

Featuring the likes of Jadon Sancho, Kai Havertz, Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski and Timo Werner, all of whom have boosted ratings in the 90s, fresh TOTSSF cards are now available in FUT.

Check out the full release below.

TEAM OF THE SEASON SO FAR

GK: Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach) – 94

RWB: Achraf Hakimi (Borussia Dortmund) – 91

CB: Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) – 96

CB: Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig) – 93

LB: Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) – 92

RF: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) – 96

CDM: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich) – 96

CAM: Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen) – 94

ST: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) – 97

ST: Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund) – 95

ST: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) – 99

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Lukas Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen) – 91

CB: Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 88

CB: Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach) – 92

CM: Suat Serdar (Schalke) – 88

CM: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) – 95

RW: Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich) – 93

LM: Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 94

CAM: Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) – 95

ST: Florian Niederlechner (Augsburg) – 89

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

 

At long last, football is almost back. After a hiatus of more than two months, top-level European club action returns on Saturday with the resumption of the 2019-20 Bundesliga season.

With nine rounds of the season still to be completed, there remains much to play for in Germany's top flight and it all kicks off once again this weekend, with the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke undoubtedly the highlight.

Given there are precious few other sporting events around the world allowed to resume yet, the Bundesliga could be set for an influx of new viewers and fans.

While most followers of ffootball will be well aware of the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland, Timo Werner, Jadon Sancho and the Bundesliga's other leading stars, there are other players perhaps not quite at that level of exposure yet but also worth keeping an eye on.

We identified six who were either enjoying impressive seasons before the suspension, or have shown significant promise.

Amine Harit (22), attacking midfielder – Schalke

To seasoned viewers of the Bundesliga, Harit won't be a new name – after all, he was Rookie of the Year in 2017-18. But after a difficult 2018-19, Harit is enjoying his finest season in professional football. With six goals and four assists, the Morocco international has been a key player for David Wagner's Schalke this term – the skilful and creative attacking midfielder a threat to any defence on his day. However, all of his goal involvements came before Christmas, and if Schalke are to hold on to a Europa League spot, the 22-year-old rediscovering his 2019 form could be vital.

Christopher Nkunku (22), central midfielder – RB Leipzig

A product of Paris Saint-Germain's academy, Nkunku broke into their first-team squad last term but couldn't hold down a place in the starting XI. Leipzig had seen enough of him to feel compelled to part with a reported €15million for the French midfielder, however, and it looks great business. After scoring with his first touch in Bundesliga football, he has contributed another three goals and 12 assists – a haul bettered by only Sancho and Thomas Muller. A wonderful technician, Nkunku is a dead-ball specialist, a fine striker of the ball and a supreme midfield athlete.

Marcus Thuram (22), forward – Borussia Monchengladbach

There aren't a huge amount of similarities between Marcus and his dad Lilian, one of the greatest centre-backs of his generation, but physical presence is one. Marcus Thuram is a handful for defences in virtually every way possible; quick, strong, tall, athletic and a good dribbler. Capable playing anywhere in attack, Thuram is particularly useful coming in off the left on to his right foot, and he has played a role in 14 league goals this term, eight of which were assists. Gladbach are looking to secure Champions League qualification – if they fail, keeping Thuram could be a challenge.

Dayot Upamecano (21), centre-back – RB Leipzig

You won't find many more-complete centre-backs than Leipzig's Upamecano. Strongly linked with a move to Bayern Munich at the end of the season, the France Under-21 international seems to have it all. His excellent distribution is highlighted by the fact his 66 per cent long-pass success is better than Mats Hummels (58), Manuel Akanji (55) and Benjamin Pavard (61), while his 35 interceptions is more than Virgil van Dijk has managed. Potentially the next superstar-in-waiting off the Red Bull production line, Upamecano has a big future in front of him.

Giovanni Reyna (17), attacking midfielder – Borussia Dortmund

The son of former Manchester City and United States midfielder Claudio Reyna, Gio appears destined to go on to bigger things than his old man. The 17-year-old made his debut as a substitute in the 5-3 win over Augsburg on January 18 and has played another seven Bundesliga matches since. Although mostly making cameo appearances, his direct approach to dribbling, upright running style and effortless elegance on the ball bear resemblance to Brazil and Milan great Kaka. It's only a matter of time before he gets his first Bundesliga start.

Jean-Clair Todibo (20), centre-back – Schalke

A newcomer to the Bundesliga, having joined on loan from Barcelona in January, the jury is still out on Todibo. Schalke accept it's unlikely they'll be able to trigger his purchase clause – reportedly worth €25m plus €5m in add-ons – due to the financial consequences of the pandemic, but a loan extension is said to be a possibility. A technically gifted centre-back who is comfortable on the ball and a solid passer, Todibo, 20, was perhaps unlucky to not get more opportunities at Camp Nou. He made five league appearances after joining Schalke, and although only two were starts, he is considered a real prospect.

Bayern Munich will approach Sunday's Bundesliga trip to Union Berlin like any other match, but Hansi Flick knows the league leaders will have the eyes of the world on them.

Germany's top flight will become the first major football competition to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic this weekend.

The Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke is the highlight of Saturday's schedule, but defending champions Bayern - four points clear of BVB at the summit - will return to action in Sunday's only late kick-off.

Speaking at a remote news conference ahead of facing 11th-placed Union, Flick backed Bayern to deal with the weight of expectation and impress.

"Not much will change except for the face masks in the dugout," he told reporters. "We discussed with the players what they can and will expect.

"More than 200 countries will watch the players, so we have a huge audience to whom you can show yourself. We want to deliver a top performance."

Flick will be granted an extra two substitutions - five in total - following an IFAB rule change, and the head coach acknowledges he does not yet know how his players will handle the return to a 90-minute match.

"It's a good question because we don't know if the team can do anything over 90 minutes," he said.

"We trained well and had an internal friendly with three periods of 20 minutes on Sunday. We had a very high intensity there.

"But clearly we all don't know where we are. We have to deal with the situation and let there be no doubt."

Bayern are without injury absentees Philippe Coutinho, Corentin Tolisso and Niklas Sule, yet Javi Martinez is the only other doubt.

"If a player had had concerns, they could have decided not to play - without consequences," Flick said. "But we are all there except for the injured."

He added of Barcelona loanee Coutinho: "In the last few weeks before the break, Philippe has already shown what qualities he has.

"You noticed in training that he arrived differently in the team. He is very sensitive and an excellent football player.

"I really enjoy working with him. We hope that he can be involved again soon."

After a two-month absence due to the coronavirus crisis, football in one of Europe's major leagues returns on Saturday as the Bundesliga resumes.

Though no fans will be present in the grounds, there are sure to be millions watching from home as the German top flight gets back up and running.

The Revierderby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund is the headline fixture, while title hopefuls RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach are also in action on Saturday.

There is a crunch clash between strugglers Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn, with two places and six points separating the teams.

Elsewhere, Augbsurg host Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim go up against Hertha Berlin.

Using Opta data, we take a look ahead to all of Saturday's Bundesliga fixtures.

 

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn

10 – Fortuna occupy the relegation play-off place as it stands and have won just one of their last 10 league games against Paderborn, defeating them in April 2014 in the second tier.

22 – Fortuna's tally of 22 points from 25 games represents their second-worst points haul at this stage of a Bundesliga season. They are also without a win in four league matches.

4 – Paderborn have lost their last four Bundesliga games. They last had a similar losing run in September and October this season, when they suffered five defeats on the bounce.

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke

180 – This will be the 180th Revierderby. Dortmund have only won one of the last eight meetings, beating Schalke 2-1 in December 2018. 

1 – Dortmund's 4-2 defeat in their last home clash with Schalke is their only league defeat at Signal Iduna Park under Lucien Favre.

14 – David Wagner's Schalke were only one point behind Dortmund prior to their first meeting this season, but 14 points now separate the sides.

9 – Since signing for Dortmund in January, Erling Haaland (9) has scored more than double the amount of goals Schalke (4) have managed since the mid-season break so far.

387 – Schalke have only managed to score once in their last 387 minutes of Bundesliga action, whereas Dortmund have scored 10 times in the same amount of minutes.

800 – Should Dortmund win, it would be their 800th Bundesliga victory. Schalke, meanwhile, will have let in 2,500 Bundesliga goals should they concede at least once on Saturday.

 

RB Leipzig v Freiburg

2 – Leipzig had not enjoyed the best start to 2020 prior to the suspension of the league. They had won just two of their last seven Bundesliga games, drawing their last two.

43 – Against current Bundesliga teams, Leipzig only have a higher loss percentage against Bayern (50 per cent) than Freiburg (43 per cent).

26 – Leipzig have conceded just 26 goals in the Bundesliga this term, meaning they have the joint-best defence, along with Bayern.

252 – Freiburg's 3-1 win against Union Berlin last time out ended the club's run of 252 minutes without a goal. They netted three times against Union, which is more than in their previous six games combined (2).

 

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin

8 – Hoffenheim are unbeaten in their last eight Bundesliga matches against Hertha. They have never managed a longer undefeated run in the top flight against any other side.

5 – However, Hoffenheim have gone their last five Bundesliga games in a row without a win.

48 – Hertha, meanwhile, have conceded 48 goals after 25 Bundesliga games this season. They last let in at least as many at this stage in 1990-91, when they were relegated.

Augbsurg v Wolfsburg

8 – Augsburg's heaviest Bundesliga defeat came against Wolfsburg in May 2019, as they went down 8-1 away from home.

18 – While Wolfsburg have conceded just 17 goals in the second half of Bundesliga matches this season, Augsburg have let in 18 since the winter break.

20 – Only struggling Werder Bremen (21) have dropped more points from winning positions than Augsburg (20) this term.

 

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach

0 – After winning both Bundesliga matches against Gladbach in 2017-18, Frankfurt have not won any of their last three games against the Foals.

34 – However, Eintracht have beat Gladbach 34 times in the Bundesliga in total. They have only recorded more victories over Bremen.

49 – Gladbach have taken 49 points from the first 25 Bundesliga matches of the season – this is the same as in their title-winning campaign of 1974-75.

100 – Should Oscar Wendt feature in a Gladbach triumph, he would bring up his 100th Bundesliga win, becoming the first foreign-born player to reach the milestone with the club.

The Bundesliga is coming back with a bang on Saturday, with Borussia Dortmund and arch-rivals Schalke meeting in the 180th Revierderby.

As the first major European league to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, the clash at Signal Iduna Park provides a tantalising treat for sport-starved fans – even though the game will be played behind closed doors.

Dortmund will be unable to rely on the famous 'Yellow Wall' when they attempt to avenge a 4-2 home loss to Schalke in April 2018, which put a huge dent in their title ambitions.

It remains BVB's only home Bundesliga defeat under Lucien Favre and they will fancy their chances of avoiding a repeat when they face a team that are winless in their past seven Bundesliga games – the worst record in the division.

Minimal goalscoring experience

Daniel Caligiuri struck twice for Schalke in that game to take his Revierderby goal tally to four in six matches; he has only scored 16 in total for the Royal Blues.

No player in either team has scored as many as Caligiuri in this fixture, with Mario Gotze (two) the only player to have found the net more than once.

Lothar Emmerich's record of 10 goals in this rivalry does not consequently look like being surpassed any time soon.

Caligiuri's six appearances in the derby is the most in David Wagner's ranks, while Dortmund boast plenty of experience in Mats Hummels (16), Marcel Schmelzer (14) and Lukasz Piszczek (13).

The overall appearance record is held by Klaus Fichtel and Roman Weidenfeller of Schalke and Dortmund respectively. They both featured 24 times in this game.

Midfield concerns

Dortmund will be without Axel Witsel, Emre Can and Marco Reus.

With Witsel on the pitch, Dortmund have won 67 per cent of their Bundesliga games. In four matches without him, they have been victorious only once.

After losing his first game as a starter, Can racked up four straight wins at the heart of Dortmund's midfield.

The duo will be sorely missed, but if Favre's men can keep Amine Harit quiet they stand a good chance of taking maximum points.

Harit has been involved in more Bundesliga goals than any of his team-mates (six scored, four assisted) but has not done so in his past nine outings.

Schalke have not won any of those games, while the seven matches in which he has been involved in a goal have all ended in victory.

Fire it up

Jadon Sancho has had a hand in more Bundesliga goals (14 scored, 15 assisted) than any other player this season and will be hoping to improve his record in the Revierderby.

The England international has scored one and set up another in four games against Schalke, though his solitary strike was the winner in a 2-1 victory in December 2018 - Dortmund's only success in the past eight meetings of these teams.

BVB's January signing of Erling Haaland has made them more dangerous in attack, too.

Haaland's nine Bundesliga goals are over twice the amount Schalke have managed since the mid-season break (four). Furthermore, Wagner's team have found the net just once in their past 387 minutes of Bundesliga action, with Dortmund getting 10 in the same time frame.

One for Schalke on Saturday would see them reach 2,500 Bundesliga goals, while failure to do so will mean they have gone five straight games without scoring for the first time since 1998.

A new target

Sancho and Haaland will be hoping to get the better of potential Revierderby debutant Markus Schubert in the Schalke goal.

In Schubert's six Bundesliga matches he has produced a save percentage of 76.

That is a better rate than Alexander Nubel (71 per cent), who has been marginalised since agreeing to join Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

Schubert, 21, will be hoping to continue impressing and deny Dortmund what would be their 800th Bundesliga win when football finally returns.

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic is a player in demand.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international has been linked to Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United.

But Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly interested in signing the former Lyon star.

 

TOP STORY – PSG MAKE PJANIC OFFER

Paris Saint-Germain are rivalling Barcelona and Chelsea for Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic, according to RMC Sport.

Pjanic's future is dominating headlines, with the Bosnian star linked to LaLiga champions Barca, while he has been the subject of reported swap deal involving Chelsea's Jorginho.

But Pjanic has a contract offer from PSG, who are also reportedly eyeing either Houssem Aouar of Lyon or Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims Gareth Bale could leave Real Madrid for free due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Welsh star has been linked to Newcastle United recently.

Inter are putting pressure on Barca to complete a deal for Lautaro Martinez, reports Sport. The Serie A side have told Barca to wrap up a transfer this month amid reported negotiations with possible replacements Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal).

- Sky Sport says Liverpool's interest in Werder Bremen star Milot Rashica has faded.

- Calciomercato reports Juventus continue to observe Mauro Icardi but PSG remain in pole position to sign the Argentina international, who is on loan from Inter.

- Bayern Munich have decided not to take up their option to buy Ivan Perisic from Inter, according to Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira. Perisic is on loan at the Bundesliga champions.

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