Das Restart: Something missing from Germany's Revierderby on Saturday

The 180th edition of the Revierderby -- the Ruhr Valley derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 from nearby Gelsenkirchen -- was like none other.

Dortmund is the best supported club in the world, averaging 81,154 through its first 12 home games in 2019-20, but there were just 215 people inside the Westfalenstadion at kickoff -- 98 on the field and 117 in the stands -- each designated an arrival and departure time on the German league's hour-by-hour "dynamic planning of staff requirements" of who and how many could be at the game.

Outside the stadium were another 109 designated workers at kickoff -- security, TV and VAR technicians, groundskeepers waiting to get back in  -- but there were no fans and no vendors hawking Dortmund apparel or selling sausage and beer along the Strobelallee.

"It's a bit surreal," Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told Sky Germany before the game. "Over the last two hours, I got text messages from all over the world. They all wrote they'd be sitting at home and watching us play. But driving through the city, there was nothing."

Dortmund won, 4-0, handing Schalke 04 its worst defeat in the series since 1966, and its players celebrated by saluting the empty Yellow Wall, the famed south-end section of the Westfalenstadion that's normally packed with 25,000 fans.

"4-0 against Schalke," said Dortmund's Swiss coach, Lucien Favre. "That's quite good."

But he admitted something was missing.

"There's no noise, you create a chance, you play a top pass, a goal and ... nothing," Favre said. "It's very, very weird. We miss our fans very much."

Whether it was the two-month layoff, the steps it took to get back on the field, including a seven-day quarantine, or the lack of fans, Favre said the game was completely different than usual.

"It's hard to judge how good the game was," he added. "I had the feeling that it wasn't as committed as planned."

Bundesliga, Saturday:
Borussia Dortmund 4 Schalke 04 0. (Haaland 29, Guerreiro 45, 63, Hazard 48.)
RB Leipzig 1 Freiburg 1. (Poulsen 77; Gulde 34.)
Hoffenheim 0 Hertha Berlin 3. (Own goal 58, Ibisevic 60, Cunha 74.)
Fortuna Duesseldorf 0 Paderborn 0.
Augsburg 1 Wolfsburg 2. (Jedvaj 54; Steffen 43, Ginczek 90+1.)
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 Borussia M'gladbach 3. (Andre Silva 81; Plea 1, Thuram 7, Bensebaini pen. 73.)

Poolfoto/Imago/Icon Sportswire

11 comments about "Das Restart: Something missing from Germany's Revierderby on Saturday".
  1. R2 Dad, May 17, 2020 at 1:41 a.m.

    Felt like watching a training session, TBH. The $20K question: how many players test positive after the weekend? Wagner has done well enough this season, hopefully Shalke management lets him bring in some reinforcements. They haven't replaced Goretzka, the team lacks that creative force in the middle of the pitch. They were a much more complete team 2 years ago. Hope the season goes down to the wire.

  2. David Gee, May 17, 2020 at 7:15 a.m.

    At best, like watching TV with the sound off. At worst, like taking a shower in your raincoat.

  3. Peter Bechtold, May 17, 2020 at 8:42 a.m.

    Missing by most commentators so far: 1. Almost no sliding tackles, very unusual for Bundesliga and clearly hurting Schalke whose game depends on physicality much more than BVB; 2. Almost no pushing, use of ellbows and--thankfully--clashing of heads when contesting high balls in the middle of the pitch; 3. best-of-all: no pushing,shoving, shirt-pulling,etc. during corner kicks.

    Clearly the "Hygiene" instructions were taken seriously, to avoid touching opponents b/c you never know what went on in "their quarantine hotel". I was wondering if the British (and Scandinavian) styles were capable of playing without "putting a body on" the attackers.
    So,of course, it looked different. What was the alternative ?

  4. Peter Bechtold replied, May 17, 2020 at 8:59 a.m.

    4. Also, no surrounding the referees and arguing calls. Hey, physical distancing works when you have clear instructions. What's not to like about this ?

  5. Valerie Metzler, May 17, 2020 at 8:58 a.m.

    I seem to be the only one who didn't mind no fans in the stadium.  I just concentrated on the game and listened to the commentators.  That said, it was definitely a different game on the pitch. I went outside and did yard work instead of watching any more games yesterday.

  6. beautiful game, May 17, 2020 at 9:41 a.m.

    This game was a 20 minute exercise of boredom before I turned it off. Schalke did absolutely nothing. One thing does remain constant is the TV coverage and the plethora of ground level and close-ups that are huge distractions. Viewer is denied a panoramic view of the pitch needed to understand the lanes of attack and the time/space concept. The multiple back and forth camera tunnel visioning on players is painful to watch. 

  7. Bill Dooley, May 17, 2020 at 9:48 a.m.

    I wonder how many more people it would take to create and run a program to pipe in apporopriate crown noises, chants, etc?  

    You know some smaller club in a lesser league is going to give it a try.

  8. Randy Vogt, May 17, 2020 at 9:51 a.m.

    While fans add atmosphere and enjoyment to a person watching the game, this is the best we can do right now. Watching live games beats those on tape where we already know the result so I will continue watching the Bundesliga.

  9. beautiful game replied, May 17, 2020 at 2:44 p.m.

    Have been watching taped 90-in-30 games on TV. And if anyone likes the ground level action and close-up player zooms/movements on these shortened versions; than you all probably like the 90 miniute live versions with three-times of such TV production unprofessional shananigans.

  10. Alvaro Bettucchi, May 17, 2020 at 2:58 p.m.

    I grew up, after high school, playing soccer until I was 44 years old and coached for many years thereafter. Crowds, did not exist (maybe 30 to 50 friends). Now, with no crowds, I concentrate on the game, and look for the skill of the "bel gioco"! Yes, crowds do add much to the game, but think possitive, enjoy what we have and hope for a better future.

  11. beautiful game replied, May 18, 2020 at 10:28 a.m.

    Bravo Alvaro; it's the quality of player and team performance on the pitch that I concentrate on. As for the suggested piping of crowd noise into the TV system in absence of the spectators,  that tells me what some officianados perceive as an added game attraction. Too much reality TV can become addictive. The game speaks for itself, unless someone needs added color from the crowd noise or winded commentatory.

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