Borussia Dortmund's Andre Schürrle on playing alongside Marco Reus and Mario Götze: "We've wanted this for a long time"
In the end, Borussia Dortmund's 1-0 win at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday was almost a side note to the main story of the game: Marco Reus, Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle all started together for the first time ever at club level.
The trio have been best friends for years, their bond forged during their time together in the German national team, but despite being united at Dortmund since summer 2016 they had never all played in a competitive fixture for the club. Until now.
Lining up in a flexible 4-2-3-1 formation in midfield behind striker Michy Batshuayi, the almost telepathic understanding between the attacking trident was visible from the off, with their instinctive link-up play causing Gladbach problems on several occasions. It was also crucial to the outcome of the game: all three were involved in the build-up to Reus' match-winning strike.
"It feels amazing and we produced a goal," said Schürrle, visibly delighted, after the final whistle blew against Gladbach. "Mario played it to me, I played it to Marco and he scored, so it's amazing. It's a good feeling. We're very good friends and we've wanted this for a long time. Now it's finally there and we have to get healthy and then play together like we used to."
Watch: Schürrle reacts to playing alongside Götze and Reus
The goalscorer himself was equally pleased at being out on the pitch again with his friends: "We always enjoy playing together, which hasn't been very often. Today we got to do so for the first time in a long time. I thought we did really well today, although obviously there's room for improvement."
The 28-year-old's decisive contribution arrived in the 32nd minute when he looped a close-range shot from the right over Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Yet as memorable as it was - his first Bundesliga goal in 274 days (since 20 May 2017) - Reus admitted an element of luck was involved:
"I didn't hit the ball well. I wanted to place it further to the left, but the most important thing is that it went in. It was a hard-fought match and in the second half especially, Gladbach were the better team. Fortunately, it ended well for us. We've still got a lot of work to do, but wins like this are very important."
Watch: Reus on his friendship with Schürrle and Götze
Indeed they are. Dortmund have now won their last three Bundesliga appearances and are up to second in the standings. With five teams in contention for the three remaining UEFA Champions League berths behind leaders Bayern Munich, every point counts.
Now that BVB have their terrifying trio fit, healthy and in sync once more, though, they can afford to be more optimistic than most about their chances of a top-four finish.
Watch: The three amigos - Schürrle, Reus and Götze!