Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus may have had to sit out the World Cup due to injury, but the flip side of that coin is that the 33-year-old will be rested and raring to go for BVB when the 2022/23 Bundesliga season resumes.
And boy, have Dortmund missed him. Who wouldn’t? After all, this is a player with 156 goals in 368 Bundesliga appearances, the mere sight of whose name on the teamsheet can cause opposition players to groan wearily.
But what is it exactly that Dortmund have missed since Reus damaged ankle ligaments in the Revierderby victory over Schalke on 17 September? Well, for starters, he’s just a very good footballer. He’s the kind of attacker who can make the difference in tight games – and players like that are in short supply at the highest level.
So much so that he even made two subsequent Bundesliga appearances as a substitute, one in October and one in November, in a bid to return and be fit for the World Cup. He recently admitted that he maybe tried to make his comeback “too soon”, but it is telling that Dortmund also considered it a risk worth taking to have him back in action.
Moreover, Reus is the team captain, their leader on and off the pitch. While football is very much a team game, some players are more important than others – including Reus. A hometown hero playing for his boyhood club, he is the Black-and-Yellow focal point for fans and teammates alike.
That holds even greater significance in a side like Dortmund’s given the youth and relative inexperience of much of the attacking department, including Gio Reyna (20), Jude Bellingham (19), Karim Adeyemi (20), Youssoufa Moukoko (18) and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (17). That quintet are all exceptionally gifted and already key players for the side, but still need guidance from older, wiser heads.
Bar Bynoe-Gittens, all of those youngsters, plus Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard, are involved at the World Cup in Qatar, meaning Reus, Anthony Modeste and Donyell Malen are the only BVB attackers that will have fresh legs going into the second half of the season. With at least 22 competitive games on the calendar before the campaign is out, that could well pay dividends.
Yet as important as all of those qualities are, they are intangible, unquantifiable. Football, for better or worse, is a game where numbers and in-match statistics are the prevailing currency. Reus holds some serious money in the bank in this regard too.
As head coach Edin Terzic put it: “He’s outstanding. He’s everything we could want in a captain.” In 639 Bundesliga minutes on the pitch of what has been a stop-start season for Reus, he’s registered two goals, two assists and completed 80 percent of his passes – an incredible quota for an attacker who often plays risky, probing final balls. He also has one goal and one assist in two UEFA Champions League outings.
And while Dortmund have averaged the same number of points per game with him as without him in the league in 2022/23 (1.67), the difference in the number of goals scored is significant.
With Reus on the pitch, BVB have found the net every 45 minutes on average this season, conceding just one per game. Without him, they score every 65 minutes, conceding an average of two per game.
In other words, they win 2-1 when he plays and lose 2-1 when he doesn’t. In terms of impact, that is seismic.
Such is his importance to the team that he even accompanied the squad on their trip to south-east Asia this month, despite not yet being ready to play in any friendlies.
Watch: Dortmund head to Singapore
“We had a lot of talks about it and weighed things up,” Reus told Bild. “In terms of marketing the trip is incredibly important for the club and as captain I obviously want to be there and help out in person.”
Having him do the same out on the pitch in 2023 – starting with the Matchday 16 fixture at home to Augsburg on 22 January – could yet prove to have even greater significance.
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