Such a single Bundesliga game is only a small moment within the ten months over which a season is played. Certainly, Dortmund and Schalke will again deal with completely different topics during the coming weeks. BVB dreams of titles in the Bundesliga and DFB Cup, Schalke are fighting against the threat of relegation and economic stability.
But after this Revierderby, Dortmund coach Edin Terzic was the man who was worried, while his Gelsenkirchen colleague Thomas Reis spoke like the head coach of a perennial winner. "We have to make sure that we stay on the ground of the facts," he said after the 2-2 draw in the 100th Revierderby in Bundesliga history on Saturday evening, after a glittering football festival in royal blue.
Again and again Bengal fires burned during the 90 minutes in the fan blocks, one of which injured a photographer. It was loud, beguiling the passion of many supporters, and sometimes football was played on the pitch with the highest intensity. At the same time, however, there was a lot of love involved, especially with the Schalke majority, who celebrated every grit and every halfway clever pass like a medium-sized sensation.
Especially "in the last minutes of the game you noticed again what a mood is in the arena, you absorb that," said Schalke professional Marius Bülter. The whole experience was "very emotional". The great revival of FC Schalke 04 has not yet led to the club being able to leave the relegation ranks. But the team now plays at eye level with the competition and is carried by an enthusiasm that rarely sets in when such a well-known Bundesliga club is so badly placed in the table.
Kenan Karaman, who had made by far his best game for Schalke not only because of his equalizing goal to 2:2, reported a "mega cohesion in the dressing room". After FC Schalke had started its upswing with four goalless draws in a row, the professionals have scored two goals three times in a row. "We're back, we're in close contact," says Reis, "it's open again."
Self-confidence and exuberance
Edin Terzic could also claim this in an interim balance after nine games since Christmas to Dortmund's ambitions in the championship fight. After all, after these first point losses of 2023, it is still the case that BVB was able to catch up seven points on FC Bayern and climb from sixth to second place in the table.
But the coach of the black-yellow district club avoided the championship topic on this day and collected good arguments for his defensive communication strategy in Gelsenkirchen. Terzic's thesis: Only if his team is stable enough to survive this kind of emotionally charged games against gladiator-like fighting opponents, his BVB is a title aspirant. "We remain humble, working on our issues," he said, "the rest we will see in May."
Because this Revierderby was a lesson in Dortmund's fickleness, which has a lot to do with the difficult balance between self-confidence and exuberance. "In the second half, due to the dominance and game control, we might have thought that it would go by itself today and that we would not need to concentrate so much at one point or another," said BVB sporting director Sebastian Kehl. This was particularly evident in the performance of one player: Jude Bellingham.
The 19-year-old Englishman, who could become the protagonist of many shrill transfer market discussions and one of the most expensive footballers in history in the coming weeks, had some good scenes in this game. But in those crucial situations, when the game tipped, he didn't look good. Before the 1:1 of FC Schalke he lost the ball near the halfway line against Alex Kral, the subsequent counterattack led to Bülter's 1:1 (50th minute).
And in the creation of the 2:2 by Karaman, Bellingham made Bülter's submission into the penalty area possible by a fatal wrong decision (79.). "Today we didn't manage as a team to defend the goal in such a way that the opponent can't come back into the game," Terzic said when asked about these two mistakes. It is not the style of this coach to publicly pillory one of his stars.
If he had the impression that Bellingham was overplayed or tired, Terzic would not share this finding with journalists, "but with him," said the coach. But Bellingham's mistakes, which were by no means catastrophic, but momentous, could not be overlooked. Just like his – compared to his best time – not so brilliant performances during the past weeks.
The figure of Bellingham shows quite well the weakness of this highly talented squad: Dortmund have to move close to their performance limit if they want to keep up with FC Bayern at the top of the table. At the same time, however, no one can expect a teenager to get through an entire season without a performance hole.
It's BVB's old problem: training young talent is an important part of the club's strategy, but in the "consistency" category, such players are often not as reliable as a 30-year-old professional. In the coming week against 1 FC Cologne, they now have the chance to repair the small setback, before the big game at FC Bayern Munich is imminent after the international break.