Berlin (AFP) – Former Liverpool star Emre Can and Belgian international Axel Witsel will miss Borussia Dortmund’s derby with Schalke 04 on Saturday as German football makes a tentative return.
As with all other fixtures in the rest of the Bundesliga season, it will be played behind closed doors with the players quarantined for a week before kick-off.
Because Can and Witsel both need treatment to muscle strains, they have had to leave the team’s quarantine ‘bubble’ so cannot play on Saturday.
Known as the Ruhr derby, Dortmund v Schalke is a key fixture as German football blazes a trail for Europe’s top leagues by resuming two months after it was halted, but without spectators.
It will be the first major European league to resume after the outbreak of the pandemic, which has so far claimed around 7,500 lives in Germany.
As the Bundesliga restarts Dortmund are second in the table, four points behind Bayern Munich and a single point ahead of third placed RB Leipzig.
Witsel and German central midfielder Can, who spent four years at Liverpool and recently joined Dortmund on loan from Juventus, both picked up injuries in training after the long lay-off.
Dortmund have played two training matches without the injured pair as they prepare for the first Ruhr derby in its 95-year history without a crowd.
«We are used to playing at home in front of 82,000,» Dortmund coach Lucien Favre told the Bild daily.
«To prepare mentally now to play without being cheered and without being pushed by the atmosphere is an extreme challenge.»