Preview: the 'Ghost' derby raises the curtain by restarting the Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund host Schalke 04 in Germany 's fiercest derby on Saturday but no more than 300 people will be in and around the 80,000 capacity arena due to COVID-19 restrictions like the Bundesliga returns to business after a two-month break.
The Bundesliga is the first major sports league to resume since world sport was brought to a standstill by the pandemic, and players will have to abide by a strict set of health guidelines aimed at minimizing the risk of infection.
Los fanáticos no podrán asistir a los partidos como parte de las normas de seguridad, lo que dejará in manos de los jugadores proporcionar la chispa para los llamados juegos fantasmas.
"It will most certainly be the most unusual derby in history," Dortmund's head of pro players Sebastian Kehl said this week.
This game lives on the fans, their emotions, the intensity of the stadium. We will not experience any of that. Players will greatly miss the motivation of the atmosphere and the fans, he told the Welt newspaper.
Whatever the conditions, Dortmund will look to pick up where they left off before the break and earn a victory over their fierce rivals that would keep them in the title hunt.
With nine games remaining, Dortmund has 51 points, four behind leader Bayern Munich and one ahead of RB Leipzig.
Dortmund have always relied on their 80,000 sold-out crowd to push them forward at every home game but on Saturday only about 200 people will be allowed pitchside and in the stands, with another 100, mainly security staff, posted outside the arena.
Con el tribuno in pie más grande de Europa, el Muro Amarillo, vacío el sábado, los anfitriones han organizado varias sesiones de entrenamiento in la arena para acostumbrarse a jugar sin fanáticos.
Durante la sesión de entrenamiento del miércoles, la música que se reproduce antes de los partidos sonó in los altavoces mientras el equipo simulaba las condiciones del sábado.
On paper, the hosts are favorites, having won seven of their last eight games. Since January, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho have scored nine goals together, more than double the entire Schalke team (four).
But Dortmund will miss injured captain Marco Reus and defender Dan-Axel Zagadou, while midfielders Axel Witsel and Emre Can also have doubts.
Schalke are without a win in their last seven league games, the longest winless stretch under coach David Wagner, and have scored just two goals in the process.
After a strong start to the season they have dropped to sixth on 37 points and are in danger of missing out on Europe next season.
Champion Bayern, chasing an eighth straight record-breaking title, will travel to Union Berlin on Sunday with the hosts likely to be without coach Urs Fischer, who on Wednesday left the team's seven-day mandatory isolation camp before the restart. it's from the season.
Leipzig, on 50 points, host Freiburg while Borussia Moenchengladbach, a further point behind in fourth place, travel to Eintracht Frankfurt.