Schalke definitely has all focus turned to the Revierderby, but it’s the three matches that follow that are more likely to define the season.
Understandably, all eyes are on the Revierderby. Schalke vs Dortmund, the return of professional football. Nothing else matters. Only… other things do matter, especially for Schalke, whose results on Saturday, while massive, will not determine whether or not they keep their spot in the top seven.
What will likely determine that, however, are the three matches immediately following the Revierderby. Because those three matches will show one way or the other if Schalke really has turned a corner.
No matter what happens against Dortmund, it’s an isolated case. Revierderbies always are. No matter what state the Royal Blues are in, they show up for derbies and it doesn’t often reflect their status in the season.
What comes after Dortmund key for Schalke
But what we need to see is how this club handles ordinary matches. Particularly matches that they should be winning.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, here’s a look at the next three matchdays, all crammed into a week:
For those that don’t want to do the digging, Schalke will be facing Augsburg, Dusseldorf, Werder Bremen. Three of the bottom five teams. In fact, if we look at the table in only the 2020 calendar year, Schalke is level with Dusseldorf at fourth from the bottom, with Augsburg and Werder Bremen below.
These are those must-win matches that Schalke was letting fall by the wayside in the weeks before the pause. Whatever happens with Dortmund is an exception, because the Revierderby is always the exception. These three matches will determine what steps Die Knappen has made towards establishing themselves.
Even if the Royal Blues (God forbid) lose against Dortmund, if they come out on those matches and win three in a row, chances are they’ll climb right back into a European Cup place and prove that they aren’t the mid-table quality side that had been so unfortunately on display before the pause. These are teams that we should be beating handily.
And when we win, it’s not all-defining either. Far worse Schalke sides have beaten far better Dortmund sides.
So yes, by all means let’s get through the Revierderby with flying colors first. But after that, it’s all hands on deck to ensure that whatever happened before the pause didn’t trickle through and out the other end.