The 2014/15 season was one of struggle for both Borussia Dortmund and Marco Reus, with BVB finishing down in seventh and the 26-year-old missing 14 league matches with various injuries.
This term, however, the Black-and-Yellows have reprised their role as FC Bayern München’s closest challengers, with Reus also rediscovering some of his best form by scoring eight goals to help Dortmund establish a .
In an interview from the club’s winter training base in Abu Dhabi, the Germany international spoke about his personal ambitions, exorcising his injury demons and the form of team-mate and African Player of the Year Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
bundesliga.com: Marco Reus, how would you sum up the first half of the season?
Marco Reus: Overall I think we had a good first half to the season. We scored a ton of goals and put in some great performances over a number of weeks.
bundesliga.com: How have you found the transition from Jürgen Klopp to Thomas Tuchel?
Reus: Obviously it wasn’t all completely straightforward. We had a new coach and a new philosophy and the question was how quickly we'd be able to adapt. But we showed as early as the first few matches that we’re all in good form. There were a few unnecessary games where we didn’t show what we’re capable of and what’s expected of us, and I’d probably put Bayern’s eight-point lead down to that. In the Europa League we’ve done well to get through the group stage but we haven’t played as well as we have in the Bundesliga. We need to step up our performances to have something to show for our efforts at the end of the season.
bundesliga.com: How quickly has the team embraced Tuchel’s philosophy?
Reus: We have world–class players in the squad who can take on new ideas very quickly, and we started showing what the coach wanted us to do from the beginning of the season. I think everyone saw that. We know that we haven’t always managed to do it perfectly, but we’re on the right path to getting right in each game.
bundesliga.com: What are your objectives for the league season?
Reus: Our main objective is to maintain the distance between us and the teams behind us, and we’re in a good position to do that. We’re playing Borussia Mönchengladbach, one of our direct competitors, in our first game back and we have to be up for it from the off. We’ve been a lot better than last season but it will still be difficult to catch FC Bayern because they're so consistent.
bundesliga.com: Hertha Berlin are in third and are currently your closest challengers Are they the biggest surprise of the season so far?
Reus: Every year there’s a team that pulls off a surprise or two, but the competitiveness of the Bundesliga is so high that it hardly matters what team you play. If you don’t give 100 per cent, you have no chance and we know that. Hertha are having a great season but what matters is where you are in the table after 34 matches.
bundesliga.com: Where do you need to improve?
Reus: We’ve scored a crazy amount of goals, but we’ve conceded a few too. That obviously has something to do with the way we play, but we need to be a bit more solid at the back so we can defend leads over a longer period. Apart from that we also want to be a bit more flexible in our play and score even more goals if we can.
bundesliga.com: Does it depress you at all that you’ve had to cope with so many injuries in the last few years?
Reus: You just have to accept it and I don’t have any problem doing that – I’m used to it now (laughs). At the end of the day all you can do is try and stay healthy, but sometimes you get injuries that are unavoidable. And when that happens, I need to get on with it and work hard to get fit again. It’s in my nature to always look forward and not let injuries bring me down.
bundesliga.com: What are your personal ambitions?
Reus: It's important to have ambitions, both in football and in life – otherwise you’re in the wrong game. Everyone wants to achieve something: play well, win trophies, be an asset to the team. And that’s the same for me. The most important thing is to stay healthy, though. Without that, you can’t achieve anything. Everything after that us a bonus that you get if you work hard.
bundesliga.com: Your team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has just been named African Footballer of the Year. What was your reaction to the news?
Reus: I’m delighted for him. Our system fits him perfectly and we try to feed him as much as we can with good service up front. But he always works really hard on improving his own game, and on top of that he’s a great lad. We gave him a great welcome back after he won the award. It’s his turn to pay for a few dinners now (laughs).