Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund and Schalke head into their derby as clubs moving in opposite directions. While Schalke are near the top of the table, Dortmund are mired in a downward spiral.
So rapid and steady has been Borussia Dortmund's slide down the standings over the past few weeks, that many believe coach Peter Bosz could be out of a job by Sunday morning, if he fails to lead his team to victory in what not just for both sides is always one of the biggest fixtures of the year.
Bosz's side have only won of their last nine matches in all competitions and despite the fact that his team have leaked goals during this period, the Dutchman, who moved to Dortmund from Ajax in the summer, has been clinging to his preferred high-pressing, attacking style of play. His team's most recent defeat, when visiting Tottenham Hotspur came back in the second half to win 2-1 and end BVB's hopes of advancing to the second round of the Champions League, also revealed how bereft the team is of self confidence. And Bosz is under no illusions. He knows he could well be gone if the Yellow and Blacks fail to produce the goods in the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday afternoon.
"I know it is important that we beat Schalke — for my position as well," Bosz said. "We simply have to win."
If only it were that easy. Bosz's side will still be without Marco Reus, Sebastian Rode, Eric Durm and Lukasz Piszczek. However, the possible return of US international Christian Pulisic and Sokratis could help make the coach's life a bit easier. Whether the stubborn Bosz will adjust his formation to tighten things up at the back is not clear, but following the defeat to Spurs, Mario Götze insisted that the fact that BVB have conceded 12 goals in their last five outings isn't only on the coach.
"We have simply got to defend better as a team and all of us need to take responsibility for that," Götze said.
Moving on up
On the royal blue side of the Ruhr region divide, things are looking a lot rosier. Schalke, who also changed coaches in the offseason, are undefeated in six matches have quietly climbed up the standings to second place, ahead of RB Leipzig on goal difference. This has made the league's second-youngest coach (32) one the league's most celebrated, however at the Gelsenkirchen club's prematch press conference, Domenico Tedesco demonstrated that his feet remain firmly planted on the ground.
"Highs and lows during a short space of time — that's all part of the job of being a coach," the Italian-born Tedesco said, before noting that this applied equally to his counterpart at Dortmund.
"I don't see it [Dortmund's slump] as a crisis," he said.
Still, his success in the first 12 matches of his Bundesliga career have given Schalke fans reason to hope that he can deliver them a first Ruhr derby win in Dortmund since 2012. These hopes have also been boosted by the fact that Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka is set to return from injury.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:
· Fourth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach have had a solid start to the season, but they'll have their hands full as Jupp Heynckes looks to keep his perfect record intact since taking over as Bayern Munich coach from Carlo Ancelotti.
· Leipzig will hope for some help from Dortmund as they look to move past Schalke into second, where they finished their first season in the league. They're up against a Werder Bremen side who exploded into form last weekend with four goals against Hannover in their first win of the season.
· Eintracht Frankfurt (7th place), who may have been punching above their weight in recent weeks, looked to be on their way to another win last weekend, but a last-minute goal by Hoffenheim robbed them of two of the three points. Bayer Leverkusen (9th) on the other hand, have, by their standards, underachieved, but they were the ones who came back to force a draw in Leipzig last weekend.
· Still winless, hapless and luckless Cologne host Hertha Berlin in another match that could cost a coach his job. Cologne's management have guaranteed that Peter Stöger will be on the bench on Sunday, but can he survive yet another match without a win? Cologne's surprising win over Arsenal in the Europa League on Thursday would be a factor in management granting him another stay of execution.
The full fixture list for Matchday 13:
Friday, November 24, 8:30 p.m. CET
Hannover vs. Stuttgart
Saturday, November 25, 3:30 p.m.
Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke
RB Leipzig vs. Werder Bremen
Freiburg vs. Mainz
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Augsburg vs. Wolfsburg
Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayern Munich
Sunday, November 26, 3:30 p.m.
Hamburg vs. Hoffenheim
Sunday, November 26, 6:00 p.m.
Cologne vs. Hertha Berlin