Wagner believes recommencing Bundesliga season with Schalke-Dortmund derby is 'huge advantage'

Goal.com

Schalke coach David Wagner thinks it is a "huge advantage" to recommence their Bundesliga campaign following the coronavirus suspension with the Revierderby against Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga will resume on Saturday after a hiatus of more than two months due to the pandemic, which has resulted in over 7,000 deaths in Germany.

Schalke's trip to Signal Iduna Park is the pick of the matches in the first weekend back, with the visitors hoping to strengthen their bid for a European spot and dent their bitter rivals' chances of pushing Bayern Munich all the way in the title race.

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The season will resume in empty stadiums and with strict medical protocols for all necessary attendees, ensuring there will be a peculiar atmosphere to the remaining matches.

While Wagner is disappointed fans cannot attend, the former Huddersfield Town boss is confident getting the season kick-started with such a high-profile fixture can only be a good thing.

"The lads have behaved in an exemplary manner recently," Wagner told reporters on Thursday. "It's an extremely tough situation for us all - both privately and professionally.

"It's been tough going, but the lads have made the best of this situation. One huge advantage is that we aren't just playing any old match, but rather the derby. Even though the fans can't be with us in the stadium, I know that they will be fully backing us."

Victory for Schalke will ensure they remain sixth, while a win for Dortmund could see them finish the weekend just a point adrift of Bayern, who go to Union Berlin on Sunday.

A Revierderby without fans is a painful reality that fans must accept, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said.

He said: "A Revierderby without fans makes your heart bleed. We will need a high level of personal motivation on Saturday without the supporters there.

"Everyone should watch the game at home, that's very important for the restart."

BVB are four points behind league leaders Bayern Munich and were held to a 0-0 draw in October's trip to Schalke.

Dortmund coach Lucien Favre acknowledged the unique circumstances surrounding such a high-profile fixture, but cited two things that will help his side – the ability to make five substitutions and the fact his players have benefited from the services of a psychologist.

"I am happy that we can change five players during the game. It is a very good idea and it will be necessary," he said. "It is very good that we now have a psychologist on the team, since it is a very special situation for everyone. We trained well. Now we are in the hotel, everyone is doing their job very well. We have no problem with it."

Favre confirmed he would be without Axel Witsel and Emre Can after both players were forced to leave the team's quarantine bubble for treatment on injuries.

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