Vital Bundesliga points in their respective races for Europe are up for grabs when Borussia Mönchengladbach play host to their namesakes from Dortmund on Sunday.
For one player in the visiting champions' ranks however, the game will have an extra-special resonance. made the transition from promising prospect to Bundesliga star over the course of his three seasons with the Foals, before signing up with hometown club and boyhood idols Dortmund last summer.
At a time when uncannily gifted Bundesliga prospects are flying off the production line seemingly by the dozen, Reus, the current German Player of the Year, is arguably the pick of the bunch. And while he undoubtedly retains a soft spot for the "other" Borussia, his attachment to the yellow-and-black of Dortmund is one with very deep roots indeed.
At 23, Reus is old enough to remember his hometown club lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy in 1997. He lived and breathed every minute of their milestone success, not to mention the peaks and troughs in the years that followed. "As a kid, I used to watch matches in the south stand. Playing for Dortmund is a dream," he said.
A dream that was a relatively long time coming true, though. Indeed, for all their off-field struggles before the turnaround of recent years, the Dortmund hierarchy may well feel their greatest error was to let a young Reus flee the nest, aged just 18.
Ripe for development
In Reus’ five years away, he blossomed into one of the most exciting German footballers of the modern era. Rot-Weiss Ahlen knew it would only be a matter of time before one of the country’s big guns would come knocking and after three years at the second-flight outfit, he duly switched to Borussia Monchengladbach.
The versatile attacker’s displays for the Foals propelled him into the big time. In 2010/11, Gladbach needed a play-off victory to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga, but a year later, with Reus taking his and the team’s game to an altogether new level, they sensationally earned a berth in the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League – which was still known as the European Cup the last time they had participated in it. Reus’ next move was almost inevitable.
“I’d like to play for a club who can challenge for the league title and guarantee me Champions League football. I see this chance in Dortmund,” he said at the time of his Dortmund repatriation - and he has not looked back since.
A hat-trick hero as Dortmund hit back in style from a shock defeat at home to Hamburger SV with victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 22, Reus is now preparing to return to the Borussia-Park for the first time since his July 2012 departure from the club that helped make his homecoming reverie a reality.