Howedes: We don't fear Dortmund
Schalke captain Benedikt Howedes has compared the build-up to the Revierderby with Borussia Dortmund to that ahead of a Champions League match.
The Royal Blues head to the Bundesliga champions and their near neighbours in the Ruhr for one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures in Germany on Saturday.
There will not be an empty seat in the Westfalenstadion when more than 80,000 spectators watch the 141st edition of the contest.
"It's almost like ahead of a Champions League game,'' said Howedes as he entered the packed press conference room in Schalke's media centre.
But the 24-year-old claims there will be no need to feel intimidated come matchday. Indeed, Schalke go into the game in third place, one place and two points ahead of their opponents.
"We have respect, but no fear,'' he said. "We can play with self-confidence. We are in a good league position and have played some good games.
"Our last home game (a 3-0 win over Wolfsburg) shows that we are on a par with Dortmund. If we play to our strengths, then we can get something out of it.''
Leaders Bayern Munich travel to Fortuna Dusseldorf as they look for an eighth straight win, a new Bundesliga record from the start of a season.
"We are light years away from Bayern,'' Dusseldorf coach Norbert Meier said to Sport Bild magazine.
"This is a game like any other. We have concerns other than spending day and night worrying about Bayern.''
Wolfsburg, champions in 2009, have slipped into the bottom two off the back of a dismal home record which they will be desperate to change against fellow strugglers Freiburg on Saturday.
Defeat could see Felix Magath's side drop to the foot of the table. In fact, they could be there before even taking to the field since bottom side Greuther Furth are in action on Friday night and just a draw at Hoffenheim would be enough to lift them above the Wolves.
Augsburg complete the picture at the bottom of the table and their Bavarian derby at Nurnberg is crucial for both teams, with the hosts having lost their last four games.
Elsewhere, forward Andre Schurrle faces his former club as Bayer Leverkusen host Mainz, high-flying Eintracht Frankfurt and Hannover lock horns at the Waldstadion, while Werder Bremen host Borussia Monchengladbach.
Finally, Hamburg look to continue their recent revival against Stuttgart on Sunday.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report