Amidst change at BVB, Marco Reus’ resilience still shines

“It is wonderful to see that his loyalty and perseverance from injury after injury is being duly rewarded with a consistent run in the side, culminating in a recent call-up to the German national team.”

What a beautiful sight, isn’t it? The Yellow Wall in the Signal Iduna Park is awash with supporters in brilliant black and yellow harmony, belting out chorus after chorus to the songs of “Heja Heja BvB” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, with little thought about the consequences of consistent tampering of the vocal chords.

Against Bayern Munich, it is easy to lose yourself within the euphoria of Der Klassiker, but never easy to cheer in the midst of total destruction, to challenge when the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels depart for greener pastures, and to win – just to have the bragging rights on their side – when all you are used to is constant disappointment. An inferiority complex had surely been created in this derby, but for once, Borussia Dortmund weren’t the team at the receiving end of a Munich shellacking.

It is usually Bayern supporters rubbing it in the faces of their opponents, but this time around, Dortmund’s young guns – featuring a few familiar faces – shot a lethal bullet wound through the thick flesh of a Bayern side struggling to be their dominant self under Nico Kovac.

Dortmund’s 3-2 success in a pulsating encounter was their first win over Bayern in their last four meetings, which included a 6-0 hammering at the Allianz Arena last season. Only three players that started that game started here – Łukasz Piszczek, Mario Götze and Manuel Akanji.

Marco Reus didn’t play, recovering from another frustrating injury, but here he was back to his very best, captaining a young, vibrant adolescent side that’s leading the chasing Bundesliga pack, a picture of familiarity in an ever-changing outfit.

Two goals in this game, and eight in the league so far, reminds us of the better days when “Rolls Reus” was an exhilarating well-oiled machine – here, there and everywhere, his finishing of the highest quality and acclaim in Jurgen Klopp’s hyper-pressing side that finished second in the league and reached the Champions League final in 2013.

It is wonderful to see that his loyalty and perseverance from injury after injury is being duly rewarded with a consistent run in the side, culminating in a recent call-up to the German national team. In an interview with GQ magazine, Reus once said, “I would give away all the money to be healthy again, to be able to do my job. To do what I love: to play football.”

A tear in your eye? There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Because for Reus, there have been many tears. Playing football is all he has ever wanted to do, this technically gifted, Puma-donning creative hub who has shown us that hard work will always outweigh talent. Adversity, in his eyes, is only a stumbling block, not a lifetime curse: Reus, the Renaissance Man, always re-inventing and reinvigorating a career that has been stop-start.

He missed out on the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016. He was substituted at halftime in the 2017 DFB Pokal Final. One of the most talented individuals of his generation, yet unable to produce on that talent, injuries stealing from him like a thief at night.

Against Bayern, though, he was the one stealing the headlines. He punished Manuel Neuer for his hesitancy in leaving his goal line with a cheekily won – and well-taken – penalty. He drifted into space and attacked Piszczek’s low delivery with a confidently struck right-footed finish.

He raised his arms in celebration, and tracked back, and ran forward, and encouraged the crowd. All of this with a number of players that had never played in this fixture before, this fun-filled nerve-wracking jingle of a team, rock n’ roll fußball at its naively best. They could’ve folded and reined themselves in as Bayern tried to dictate the tempo, scoring twice through Lewandowski who was bullish against Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou. 

But they played, pressed, made mistakes, learning on the job. Axel Witsel, like his afro, was a sight to behold and had Thomas Müller firmly in his pocket. Piszczek, Achraf Hakimi and Jadon Sancho were fearless and relentless in the face of an experienced Bayern.

Speaking of renaissances, it is brilliant to see Paco Alcácer continue his great escape from Barcelona mediocrity, his eighth league goal sealing all three precious points. And to see the Reus-Götze combination, although the latter was playing in a false false-nine position before Alcácer came on, was a sign of the familiarity that has been stolen from Dortmund’s supporters for far too long.

Can Reus somehow lead Lucien Favre’s side to a league title? Early days indeed, but Dortmund have always needed him to be their Steven Gerrard, or Paul Scholes, or Philipp Lahm: the local boy who worked through the system to then shepherd his people to the promised land. Wouldn’t that be befitting for a player who has only one professional title to his name?

Franck Ribery’s haircut was significant: the number “7” engraved in his head, 7 points behind Dortmund. Reus would like it to stay that way, too. For him, this result may mean more to him than just the team collective.

An old head, resilient and productive, shining in amongst the bright future at Favre’s disposal.


The cult of Marco Reus: A marvellous talent robbed by injuries

Had injuries not blighted him over the years, the German international would be regarded as one of the very best. Robbie Chalmers takes a look at his prodigious talent.

By Robbie Chalmers

The German international signed a new contract keeping him at Borussia Dortmund until 2022. Though had his continuous injuries not blighted him over the years, he would be regarded as one of the very best and who knows where he could have gone.

Marco Reus’s football fate was always destined to tie him with Dortmund. He was born there after all. He started his career at local club Post SV Dortmund in 1994 and after two years he joined the youth ranks of Borussia Dortmund in 1996. After playing for Borussia Dortmund for a decade at various youth levels he left for the U-19 team of Rot Weiss Ahlen in the summer of 2006. It’s during his time there that he settled as an attacking midfielder after previously playing as a striker at Dortmund. In his second year there he broke into Ahlen’s first team, who were in the German third division at the time. He started twice and was featured in 14 matches, scoring two goals. One of his goals came on the last day of the season and propelled the team being promoted to the 2. Bundesliga. Reus had a decisive nature to his game even from an early age but yet, his particular talents of slender pacey, skilful play was not the skills demanded by German Football at the time.

In 2008 Reus watched, along with the rest of the world, the German National Team reach the European Championship final. This was seen as a shock by the nation themselves as it was a side full of ageing players headed by the talismanic captain Michael Ballack. The midfielder embodied the typical German player at that time; physical, pragmatic and mentally resilient with touches of technical quality to boot. Spain won 1-0 to begin the Tiki Taka era of diminutive, technical players who dominated possession. It was after this time Reus began to foray into top flight football. In 2008–09, as a 19-year-old, he had his definitive breakthrough as a professional football player, playing 27 games and scoring four goals. Reus was not the only player to emerge on the road to the 2010 World Cup. Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil were making their names in the Bundesliga with Bayern and Werder Bremen respectively. This new wave of versatile, technical pacey players who excelled in transitional play were a result of total reform to the German Youth system after the failure of the 2004 European Championships in Portugal.

The new German player was born on the stage of the 2010 World Cup as a refreshing and exciting young Manshaft side swatted England and Argentina aside to make it to the Semi-finals before Spain again stopped them in their tracks. Reus was not at the World Cup but he would help lead the new wave of German player. Reus has the ability to dribble at great speed but make it looks like he’s going for a brisk jog. His facileness is matched by his quick change of direction and dazzlingly quick feet. Capable of player on either wing or as a ten his ability to start attacks from deep and sprint into the box is unmatched at the highest level (save for Ronaldo). This was on show in 2012 in his most successful season when, scoring 18 and assisting 8, he helped Borussia Mönchengladbach secure a place in the UEFA Champions League.

And then the time came. To return home. To Jurgen Klopp’s young Dortmund side who upset the Bavarian establishment to clinch consecutive titles in 2011 and 2012. Former Dortmund creator Tomáš Rosický was Reus’s role model and he emulated his playing style to boot. With Dortmund, Reus won the 2013 DFL-Supercup and the German Cup in 2017. He was the Footballer of the Year in Germany in 2012 and was on the UEFA Team of the Year in 2013. In 2012, Franz Beckenbauer spoke about Reus, along with Mario Götze, saying, “As a classic duo there is nobody better than the prolific Reus and Götze.” In 2013, Reus was ranked as the fourth best footballer in Europe by Bloomberg.

Reus’s talents are not his only attribute but his performances in big games and his resilience. He was outstanding in the clubs run to the 2013 Champions League final. Two assists in a classic against Malaga in the quarters were followed up by a Real Madrid thrashing in the semi final first leg. He ran Xabi Alonso was run raged that night. Few players have Reus’s qualities and even fewer players are as good to watch in full flow. He has Rosicky’s close control and technique, the graceful slalom runs of Hazard or Neymar and the predatory finishing of Frank Lampard (one of the best midfield goal scorers). It is just a shame, not just for a fan like myself but also the neutral viewer, that this player could not grace a World Cup or European Championships due to injuries. Reus doesn’t get the credit he deserves not because he doesn’t play but also because who he plays for. Dortmund are now a semi elite club but don’t have the long standing history there storied European neighbours have. Playing for a club that sells its best talent means many observers will wait until he makes the next step before tapping him up amongst the world best players.

Reus has never had that chance and after signing a new deal until 2022 and he may never now. Links to Real Madrid and Man United three years ago would have been the time to move but as the player has said “Dortmund is my home”. The likes of Le Tissier, Shearer and Totti had talent to play elsewhere and stay. They are revered as legends at their clubs. In an age where players are judged too often by the trophies they have won, perhaps some time is needed to savour the players that make this sport such a joy to watch. The very best players make the game look easy, which is Reus’s fortay.

Marco Reus said last October, “I would give all my money just to be healthy and play football again.”. Football is hoping that he doesn’t have to so he can dazzle us with his talent for a good few years to come.

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