FC Schalke 04 - Bor. Dortmund Saturday, 4 February 2006, 15.30 h, VELTINS Arena

On Saturday the VELTINS Arena plays host to the 127th Ruhr derby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund. At the pre-match media conference head coach Mirko Slomka emphasised not only the emotional significance of the game, but also its importance for the rest of the season. "We want to put pressure on the teams above us in the table. That's why a win in the derby is vitally important."

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The victory at FC Kaiserslautern last week was a big boost for everyone involved at the club, added Slomka, especially as it saw the Royal Blues make up ground in the battle for a Champions League place. "We now need to carry this on against Dortmund. We're out to chase our rivals down."

Nevertheless, Slomka is well aware that this is no ordinary match. "The players are a bit tenser than they normally are, for sure, and the media interest is greater, but we won't let that disturb our concentration going into the game."

There will be certainly no lack of motivation to rack up three points against Bert van Marwijk's team. The supporters would enjoy the local bragging rights for some time to come. And the Royal Blues also have a score to settle from last season, when Dortmund registered their first derby win after 14 failed attempts last May. "We now have the chance to repay our fans a little“, said Slomka. "We have to make amends", added team manager Andreas Müller. "For me this game is still the highlight of the season."

Slomka has virtually a full squad to choose from going into this vital clash, with only Christian Pander, Tim Hoogland and Tomasz Waldoch still on the treatment table. "I'd like to take this opportunity to express my praise for the medical department. They've got everyone fit." There is thus little reason for him to change the side that won last week, as Slomka confirmed. "I'll be starting with the same eleven as in Kaiserslautern."

In  Ebi Smolarek (twelve goals) Dortmund have one of this season's most prolific strikers in their ranks. And that's not all. "David Odonkor and Salvatore Gambino are very dangerous on the flanks and Rosicky is back to his old form“, said Slomka. But they do have some shortcomings: "They've only won once away from home this season and have yet to keep a clean sheet. So we have to stay tight at the back and exploit their defensive weaknesses. If we manage to do that, we'll win.