The Revierderby is part of 90min’s 50 Biggest Derbies in the World Series
*Initially published in April 2020
Some rivalries are built on a fight for silverware. Some rivalries are built on societal conflicts. Some rivalries are built on pure hatred. But some rivalries are built on an unadulterated passion for football.
The Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke is most certainly the latter.
Centred in the heart of industrial, working-class Germany, Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen – the city in which Schalke exist – both lie in the Ruhr region. While several other top notch clubs ply their trade within the area, BVB and the Royal Blues have always stood out as the crème de la crème, boasting a derby as ferocious as any other in world football.
Schalke were founded in 1904 with arch rivals Dortmund forming just four years later. Despite being disgusted at the thought of being anything like one another, the two clubs actually boast fairly similar values.
Both teams have working class roots, being largely supported originally by blue-collar workers from the local coal mines and factories, while the pair also lay claim to two of the most passionate fanbases in Europe. Dortmund‘s Westfalenstadion and Schalke’s Veltins-Arena are rocking come match day, boasting atmospheres – especially during the Revierderby – unlike any other in Germany.
Despite both clubs forming in the 1910s, the pair didn’t actually meet in a competitive fixture until 1925. It’s fair to say that Dortmund’s older and wiser nemesis Schalke had an unquestionable stranglehold on this fixture during the early days of the rivalry, with the Revierderby proving to be somewhat of a nightmare clash for the Black and Yellows.
It took 18 years for BVB to eventually get the better of the Royal Blues, with Schalke winning the first meetings between the sides with complete and utter ease. Between 1936 and 1942, the two sides clashed on 12 occasions with Dortmund failing to win a single meeting, losing the matches by an aggregate score of 71-9 – even losing a record 10-0 on one occasion.
Admittedly, Schalke were by far and away the best team in Germany at the time – winning six of their seven German league titles between 1934-1942 – while Dortmund were struggling in the wake of World War II. However, Dortmund would soon learn that good things come to those that wait.
Following the end of the Second World War, BVB took control of the Revierderby and won their first German first division titles towards the end of the 1950s. Just as Dortmund were beginning to enjoy the bragging rights in the Ruhr region, the Bundesliga was formed, changing the landscape of German football – and the Revierderby – forever.
Suddenly, Dortmund and Schalke no longer had just one another to worry about – although they were by no means the only dominant forces in German football at the time – the rivals now had Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich to compete with as well.
Schalke have never won a league title in the Bundesliga, while Dortmund had to wait until 1993/94 for their first Bundesliga Meisterschale.
However, while Dortmund have enjoyed greater success in the Bundesliga era – winning five Bundesliga titles and one Champions League trophy to Schalke’s none – Revierderby day always throws up an element of uncertainty. It may be something of a cliche, but form well and truly goes out the window when these two face one another.
The 95 matches between the two sides in the Bundesliga have ended remarkably even with Dortmund having won 33 clashes to Schalke’s 32, while 30 have ended all-square. There have been some utterly sensational and mind-boggling clashes between these two old adversaries since the competition’s inception, with chaos and drama never too far from view.
For example, there’s the clash in 1969 between the two sides in which German police dogs were released onto the pitch following a crowd invasion; actions that led to several Schalke players being bitten. Or perhaps the time in which Dortmund were 4-0 up with 30 minutes of regulation time remaining, only for the Royal Blues to find a 94th-minute equaliser against the ten men of BVB.
But without world-class talent, would we get these moments of madness? Perhaps not.
The Revierderby has boasted plenty of Germany’s finest players ever since the first meeting between the sides almost 100 years ago. Whether it’s Andreas Moller or Marco Reus of Dortmund, or Jens Lehmann or Klaus Fischer of Schalke, it’s fair to say that there haven’t been many better players to grace the Bundesliga turf than those who have donned the royal blue and black and yellow of this fixture.
All of the above adds up to create Germany’s most fiercely-competed derby, buoyed by passionate fans and an underlying respect for good football. While Der Klassiker between Bayern and Dortmund may hog the headlines, the Revierderby is arguably the biggest rivalry in the Bundesliga, and long may it continue.