Nabil Bentaleb: Schalke-Dortmund rivalry as big as Spurs-Arsenal

Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb has said he believes the rivalry between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund is as big as or bigger than the North London derby against Arsenal.

Bentaleb, 22, joined Schalke in the summer in a loan move that was made permanent earlier this year.

And as Schalke prepare to host their 150th competitive meeting against Dortmund at the weekend, the Algeria international told reporters: "Every rivalry is special.

"Schalke vs. Dortmund is as big as the North London derby in England, if not bigger.

"I did not grow up with this rivalry, but I was nearly shocked to see how much the fans hate each other here.

"I told my friends: 'You have to see this, there are no words for it.'"

Schalke's up-and-down season has seen them yo-yo between the battle against relegation and the fight for the European spots.

But Bentaleb said he believed they would beat Dortmund, who have come out on top in six of their last seven matches.

"We've got more heart -- we fight more," the midfielder said.

Dortmund, meanwhile, head into a busy April with two trips to Bayern Munich and a Champions League quarterfinal against AS Monaco ahead of them.

BVB are third in the Bundesliga as they aim to secure automatic Champions League qualification.

Sporting director Michael Zorc told kicker: "Nothing would be more fatal than not reaching our goals in the Bundesliga. That's why it has the highest priority."

Zorc said Dortmund "feel well-prepared" for the crucial month and added: "In our current situation, this match [against Schalke] also has a special meaning as the opening of a nine-match month."