Borussia Dortmund have confirmed neither Axel Witsel nor Emre Can will be fit for their Revierderby clash with Schalke on Saturday.
In what will be the Bundesliga’s first weekend of football since the coronavirus outbreak, BVB have the chance to reduce the gap on current leaders Bayern Munich to just one point before the reigning champions play Union Berlin on Sunday.
However, they will have to make do without two of their star midfielders, with head coach Lucien Favre confirming the duo will be absent.
Dortmund have a number of other injury concerns, with Dan-Axel Zagadou, Nico Schulz and Marco Reus also expected to be absent for the game.
The concept of professional football being played during the coronavirus pandemic has received plenty of media interest, with sporting director Michael Zorc admitting the derby will be strange without fans of both teams in attendance.
He said: “It’s strange; a derby without spectators hurts your heart to think about. When our supporters aren’t there, when the South Stand isn’t there, then we need more self-motivation and more self-momentum in order to be successful.”
The Bundesliga have also given teams the green light to make five substitutions during games instead of the traditional three. Given players are coming back to league football after an unexpected suspension of play and may not be at their sharpest, the move has been welcomed as it will allow sides to manage the workload of their stars.
Zorc added: “That’s a very good idea. And it’s necessary. All teams – without exception – will not be at their optimal fitness. It’s the first match following a two-month break. We haven’t played any friendly fixtures.”