October 24, 2019 / 11:48 AM / 24 days ago

Dortmund need Ruhr valley derby magic to restore order

BERLIN (Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund are in turmoil ahead of their Ruhr valley derby at Schalke 04 on Saturday and as the club’s stock price fluctuates, so does the confidence in coach Lucien Favre.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Borussia Dortmund Training - San Siro, Milan, Italy - October 22, 2019 Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre during training REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Dortmund’s share price shed 2.3 percent in early trade on Thursday, hours after the club lost 2-0 to Inter Milan in the Champions League that put a dent in their chances of advancing to the knockout stage. The stock price then recovered during the day.

That result in Italy came after a crucial 1-0 win over leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach last week which ended a three-game winless run in the Bundesliga.

Any slip-up against bitter in-form rivals Schalke could prove costly in a tight title race. Dortmund are in fourth place, a point off the leaders, and nine teams are within two points from the top.

Victory would also lift Schalke, who are seventh, above Dortmund in the table.

“We know full well what this game means and what kind of opportunities it harbours both in terms of the table and in terms of emotions around it,” said Borussia Dortmund’s director of licensed players Sebastian Kehl, “We really need this push now.”

It had all started well for Dortmund this season but since their first defeat — against Union Berlin — in late August results are inconsistent, with only two wins in five league games.

To top it all off, top provider Jadon Sancho was dropped from the squad last week and fined for returning late from international duty.

Favre will be hoping his men can pull off a big win on Saturday that will end any internal turmoil and extinguish widespread speculation about his future at the club.

With several German media already speculating about a potential successor — including Portuguese Jose Mourinho — in case of a defeat to Schalke, Dortmund are eager to quickly end any such talk.

“We are not having a coach discussion and are happy to have Lucien Favre,” sports director Michael Zorc told Sky. “These rumours around Mourinho lack any substance.”

But it is not only Favre who is feeling the heat.

His Bayern Munich counterpart Niko Kovac will also be under pressure when his team hosts Union Berlin on Saturday, having slipped to third after managing only one point in their last two league games.

Having conceded two goals in their last five games in all competitions, Kovac urgently needs to plug the leak in defence as defenders Niklas Suele and Lucas Hernandez have been sidelined with ligament injuries for months.

Leaders Gladbach, a point ahead of both Bayern and Dortmund, host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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