Cologne - Amidst all the rivalry when FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund meet in Der Klassiker this weekend is a story of friendship that goes beyond any on-field antagonism.
Sharing the moment
Since 31 July 2014, the whole world knows that Mario Götze and Marco Reus share a special bond - a friendship between two of the best footballing talents on the planet who just happen to wear different coloured jerseys.
Germany had just thanks to Götze's extra-time goal against Argentina. It was his moment. A moment most children in the world dream about but one that is reserved for only a select few. In that moment of elation and celebration, Götze put his personal glory to one side and paid hommage to his close friend, hoisting a Germany shirt with Reus' name and number on the back into the air.
Two of a kind
They soon discovered that they like the same music, have the same interests and are pretty much on the same wavelength off and on the field. It was therefore an ideal scenario when Dortmund re-signed Reus from Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012, uniting the two youngsters and allowing Mario and Marco to produce some truly eye-catching football. "They are the classiest footballing duo on the planet," Franz Beckenbauer told German newspaper
at the end of 2012. "The deadly Reus with the strategist Götze!" The duo were indeed a joy to watch and the whole of Europe was waxing lyrical about the way they led the Westphalians into the
Having familiarised himself with his new surroundings, but without his best mate's shoulder for support, Götze has gone from strength to strength since scoring in the World Cup final last summer. With nine goals and two assists this season, his contribution to Bayern's march for silverware is not negligible.
Best friends forever
"He's strong, but I want even more," said Bayern coach Pep Guardiola shortly before the first Klassiker of the season, which ended in a 2-1 win for the record titleholders. A return as consistent as that of Reus, who has had a hand in 129 goals in 175 top-flight games since 2009, is certainly within the realms of possibility for the three-time Bundesliga champion.
Two exceptional players with exceptional records. They may be Götze and Reus for 90 minutes at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday, but they will revert to Mario and Marco again the moment the final whistle sounds.
Stefan Schinken / Adapted by Ben Gladwell