Dortmund use mind coach to prepare for derby behind closed doors

Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said Thursday it was important for his players to work with the club's sports psychologist to help cope with playing behind closed doors in this weekend's derby against Schalke in the Bundesliga.

"A match without spectators is really different and we have to be well prepared," Favre said in a press conference ahead of Saturday's home derby.

"It's a question of mentality, which is very important.

"You put in a pass or you shoot and no-one reacts, so we had to prepare for that and it's very good that we have a sports pyschologist involved."

Dortmund usually attract a crowd of around 82,000 spectators for a derby, generating an intimidating atmosphere at their Signal Iduna Park stadium.

Instead, they will take on arch rivals Schalke in front of empty stands when German football restarts this weekend despite the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed over 7,700 lives in the country.

The Bundesliga is set to become the first top European league to resume, albeit behind closed doors and under strict hygiene measures.

This will be the 156th derby between Dortmund and Schalke -- who are located just 50 kilometres apart -- since the rivalry started in 1925, but the first without fans.

"It was a difficult situation for everyone," said sports director Michael Zorc.

"A derby without spectators makes your heart bleed.

"We therefore need a higher level of self-motivation.

"Since the date was fixed, you can see that the joy in the team has returned."

Dortmund will be without captain Marco Reus, Axel Witsel and Emre Can but Favre is pleased a proposed rule change could allow teams to make up to five substitutes -- two more than usual -- with match fitness likely to be an issue.

"I think it's very good that we can change five players during the game," said Favre.

"It will be necessary. We haven't had friendlies and haven't played for almost two months."

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