The Bundesliga will take on a fierce face this sunday as two of the biggest rivalries in the league kick-off. Schalke will host Borussia Dortmund in the Ruhr derby, and Hamburg will travel to St. Pauli to contest the Hamburg derby. Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen will host Nurnberg in what should be a convincing win for the home side.
St. Pauli – Hamburg SV
The kult club from Hamburg’s red-light district will be looking to upset the odds against their local opponents in what will be a hotly contested fixture. St. Pauli will have to do without promising striker Richard Sukuta-Pasu, but a debut for summer signing Gerald Asamoah could really add some needed firepower to the St. Pauli attack. Hamburg, on the other hand, will look to absolutely overwhelm their local rivals with an onslaught of attacking flair from the first whistle to the last. Eljero Elia, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Piotr Trochowski will look to blast their opponents away to the delight of their fans who place so much importance on local derbies like these.
Schalke 04 – Borussia Dortmund
The Ruhr derby features two clubs in distinctly different league table positions, with Schalke having a pitiful time of things early on and Dortmund grinding through their fixtures with impressive efficiency. Schalke have yet to record their first points of the season, and the pressure is certainly mounting on coach Felix Magath to get a positive result after splashing the cash in the summer. A win against Schalke’s biggest rivals would certainly ease the tension surrounding the club, and three points is nearly a must here for Magath’s side. Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp will understand the importance of this fixture and will not underestimate his opponents despite their poor form. Should be a fantastic match.
Bayer Leverkusen v Nurnberg
Michael Ballack fractured a bone in his leg last week and will spend up to six weeks on the sidelines, which means Leverkusen will likely hand a start to promising youngster Lars Bender, a player who will push for a national team spot if he lives up to his potential for the World Cup in 2014. At just 21 years old, Bender looks to have a bright future ahead of him and will be given a chance to impress for his club in Ballack’s absence. Nurnberg have been on poor form and will likely battle relegation all season as they did last term, but this time it’s unlikely that they’ll stay up. Bayer Leverkusen should record a comfortable victory here.