Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund-Schalke to get the ball rolling
Under normal circumstances a Bundesliga fixture between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 would not be widely commented on in this country, outside of the admirable section of the Spanish media whose interest in football extends far beyond our shores. But this game is distinctive because it is the first since the coronavirus pandemic shut down football across the continent and it will serve as a sporting brunch while other leagues feel their way back towards restarts. The fact that we can watch it [15:30, Movistar] gets the pulse racing. Firstly, it holds the promise of something more, like the dove that alighted on Noah's Ark or the first seagulls that alerted Christopher Columbus to the approach of land. Secondly, it's an interesting fixture, one that is steeped in history and with some eye-catching players on show.
It is the Revierderby: while that can refer to any two of the sides that hug the banks of the Ruhr region in Germany, it is most widely associated with Dortmund and Schalke, who are based in Gelsenkirchen. During the first half century of their shared history Schalke were the dominant force; for the next 50 it was primarily Dortmund who had the ascendancy. Both have won continental titles. Dortmund are currently second and aiming to catch leaders Bayern Munich. Schalke can now only reasonably hope for the Europa League places. The rivalry may be diluted by lack of noise and colour in the stands and in the streets, but that is the new normal for football and it will remain that way for some time.
Haaland, Hakimi, Hazard, McKennie and Nübel
Dortmund boast Erling Haaland, the prolific Norway striker; Achraf Hakimi, a Real Madrid success story; Eden Hazard's brother Thorgan and Jadon Sancho, the pearl of English football who Pep Guardiola discarded. Among Schalke's squad Weston McKennie, who will soon make the move to one of Europe's heavyweights, is one to watch alongside Germany under-21 keeper Alexander Nübel, who has already been snapped up by Bayern Munich to follow in the footsteps of Manuel Neuer. There's plenty to enjoy in the match while we wait for LaLiga to return. For now, we have a formal truce between Javier Tebas and Luis Rubiales, for which Irene Lozano deserves a medal.