30th January 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
After an injury ravaged 2016, that was punctuated by him missing 185 consecutive days, which ultimately cost him his spot at the Euros, when Marco Reus finally returned on November 23 of last year for Borussia Dortmund's Champions League encounter with Legia Warsaw, he didn't waste any time reminding us all what an extraordinary talent he is.
In what was a scintillating man of the match performance from the classy German in Dortmund's crazy 8-4 win against the Poles, he bagged a brace and chimed in with two assists to highlight his genius.
An unsurprisingly delighted Reus spoke of his joy at finally being able to make his long awaited return in his post match comments, saying: "I was overjoyed to play from the beginning. This is how you imagine a comeback after such a long time.
"I was looking forward to this. This was an important step for me. I've worked hard for this moment. I didn't toil myself to death today, I'm not completely exhausted, but I tried to be aggressive and play my game. The game did me well today."
Thomas Tuchel, BVB's exceptional manager, then gleamed: "It was an incredible comeback and shows how much quality we missed without him."
Since that memorable evening, Reus has steadily gone about regaining his form and fitness, as he's gone onto score vs Real Madrid, register a hat-trick of assists in BVB's win over Borussia Monchengladbach and find the back of the net against Koln. Although his unfortunate red card in Dortmund's draw with Hoffenheim was untimely, causing him to miss his side's final match of 2016 with Augsburg, Reus vitally started in 2017 in fine fettle.
The 27-year-old shone in his side's first game of the new year against Werder Bremen, as he was arguably the best afield from his left sided centre forward position.
In a match where plenty of signs of rust were evident, Reus' technical qualities and penetrative yet intelligent running powers saw him have a profound impact throughout.
He caused the most problems for Alexander Nouri's men through his crafty, well angled diagonal runs. Starting such runs on the blindside of his opponent allowed him to effectively get a head start on his man, usually Robert Bauer, in order to ghost in behind to surge into the box unimpeded. Even though the service to the former Gladbach wonderkid wasn't always first rate, Reus still posed a constant threat via this tactic.
Meanwhile, when Borussia Dortmund were methodically building up play, the way Reus, his fullback and their left central midfielder, Marcel Schmelzer and Shinji Kagawa, formed triangles on the left wing and left half space ably assisted Tuchel's team to create openings to unlock their opponent's defensive structure.
Whenever Bremen were in possession, it was intriguing to note that Reus wouldn't track back all that far, instead choosing to usually position himself on the left wing around the half way line. By doing so, he acted as an excellent outlet for his teammates to utilise on the counter attack once his colleagues won back possession. By receiving in these wide areas, Reus not only successfully stretched the unset Bremen backline, but also guaranteed he had oceans of space ahead of him to dribble into and weave his magic in the final third.
For the man who's had a shocking run with injuries throughout his career, and even missed Germany's monumental World Cup 2014 triumph courtesy of him tearing ligaments in his ankle, his strong outing would've done his confidence a world of good. In addition, there were also many glimpses on show that Reus might even be back to his all conquering best before too long.
Dynamic, athletic and full of excitement, there's no questioning that when fit and fully firing, there's not too many better footballers in the world than him. It's just his inability to remain injury free that's cost him so dearly in his career to date. Now 27, and well and truly in the prime of his career, let's hope that all those horrific injuries are in the past and he can just focus on what he does best - playing at an exceptionally high level.
Borussia Dortmund's sublime Marco Reus Is Back to His Best
30th January 2017. By Edward Stratmann.