The footballing career of Marco Reus is a split narrative. One part is filled with elegance, style and world-class technique, while the other is plagued by injury, pain and reoccurring absences from the pitch.
From 2014 to February of this year, the German forward missed a total of 92 matches with his hometown club Borussia Dortmund and all of Germany’s matches in the 2014 World Cup and 2016 UEFA Euros.
In the past two years, however, Reus was absent for the most significant amount of playing time due to injury. In May 2016 he suffered a pelvis injury that kept him out for 17 matches until that November, and the following season he again suffered an injury in late May, that time a torn ACL in the DFB-Pokal Final where Dortmund won 2–1 over Frankfurt. But the damage was done again to BVB’s homegrown star. He missed 31 Dortmund contests — the longest injury stint of his career.
Reus’s long awaited return to the pitch arrived on February 10 against Hamburg at home— his first appearance for Dortmund in over 250 days — and it’s been hard not to notice him since rejoining the starting eleven.
Reus led the team with four scoring chances in the 2–0 win, and in the following three league matches he scored three goals from the right-wing position, virtually igniting the spark he left off with last season when he tallied 13 goals and 8 assists in 24 games.
One reason for Reus’s success is the new approach under BVB manager Peter Stöger. Stöger has rejuvenated Dortmund since taking over from Peter Bosz in December with variations of a 4–3–3 and 4–2–3–1 formation. Dortmund is 6–6–1 in all competitions under Stöger, who is currently running on a managerial club-record of ten unbeaten matches.
Stöger’s tactics have allowed for Reus to find fluid chemistry with fellow German attackers Mario Götze and André Schürrle, along with Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi, who is adequately replacing the role of Reus’ former teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thus far.
Reus will look to finish the 2017–18 season strong and healthy with BVB as he hopes to leave enough of an impression on Joachim Löw to be considered a spot on the German men’s national team in this summer’s World Cup.
The reality is, Reus has played in just six matches for Die Mannshaft since 2015. His last goal for Germany was on March 29, 2015 in a Euro qualifications match against Georgia, and he has a total of nine goals in 29 appearances for his country.
As a member of the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign, he scored five goals and three assists in six matches under the supervision of Löw, who will have to contemplate whether Reus is deserving of a starting position for the defending World champions soon. Assuming he is healthy, expect him to be on the flight to Russia at minimum. If Reus continues at the rate he is on at Dortmund, Löw would be foolish not to have him in the starting eleven.
Before that is ultimately decided, let’s take a look at what makes Marco Reus the ultimate X-factor when he’s on the pitch.
Reus, The Re-Marco-ble
Like many footballing stars, one of the most compelling attributes to a healthy Marco Reus is his composure and playmaking ability in the most important matches.
When Reus was with Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2011, the club faced relegation from the Bundesliga and needed to find a goal to remain in Germany’s top division. Reus, just 21-years-old at the time, found the back of the net in the 72nd minute at VfL Bochum to save Gladbach from relegation. It was a moment Mönchengladbach fans will never take for granted having finished among the top 8 of the Bundesliga every season since.
In thirty career UEFA Champions League matches, all with Dortmund, Reus has been involved in 29 goals, scoring 16 of them. Against Dortmund’s biggest rivals Bayern Munich, he has eight goals and seven assists in 23 matches. He also scored a brace against Bayern in the 2013 DFL-Supercup.
Remarkably, 27 of Reus’s 59 Bundesliga goals for Dortmund have given his side a 1–0 lead. The German is not selfish either, registering 42 assists in league play for Dortmund.
Another remarkable attribute to Reus’s resume is his production on the pitch following significant time away from the game. After his six month stint in 2016, his first game back was a Champions League group stage match against Poland’s Legia Warsaw. In the highest scoring Champions League match ever, Reus scored twice and had three assists in the historic 8–4 win. He was awarded the game ball and made sure everyone signed it.
Later that same season Reus would be out for a slate of eight games including five Bundesliga matches and two crucial UCL knock-out matches due to a hamstring injury. He returned a month later only to score five goals in the final six league matches of the 2016–17 campaign. Unfortunately for Dortmund, Reus still missed the first leg of the UCL quarterfinal against AS Monaco as they fell 3–2 at home. In the second leg, Reus scored the lone goal for BVB before losing 6–3 on aggregate.
The German’s most recent recovery from injury — albeit a more serious torn ACL — has once more proven to his critics that although he may be extremely fragile, he will always produce on the pitch when healthy.
One can argue that Dortmund’s free-flowing attacking philosophy allows for a player of Reus’s caliber to prosper at consistent levels; BVB is typically known for building their attack with speed and skill. Remember, at his best Reus was surrounded by forwards like Lewandowski, Aubameyang, Błaszczykowski, and Mkhitaryan to excel in multiple breakaway and scoring chances per match.
Much has changed since then, but Reus is quickly discovering that the likes of Schürrle, Götze, Pulisic, and Batshuayi are just as capable of drifting past defenses as the Dortmund of old, so long as the captain is in the mix providing the ultimate black-and-yellow spark.