Returning Mario Götze back among the goals for Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund
With his arm wrapped warmly around his neck and his other hand pointing down towards him, Marco Reus was keen to direct the cheers and applause towards Mario Götze as Borussia Dortmund defeated Augsburg on Saturday.
It was a scene which, symbolically, recalled the one following the 2014 FIFA World Cup final, only with the boot on the other foot. While back then it was Götze paying tribute to Reus, who missed the tournament due to injury, by holding his shirt aloft, this time Reus wanted all the acclaim to go to his close friend, who has not had much go his way of late.
"I hope so," Reus said when asked if Götze's goal against Augsburg could be a turning point for the 26-year-old. "It was sensational. The way he took his goal was outstanding. He's an extraordinary footballer."
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It is not the first time the Germany international has demonstrated that, not least with that World Cup-winning goal against Argentina at the Maracana. It was nevertheless a timely reminder after arguably one of the most difficult periods of his career.
"We were all delighted for Mario," said Sebastian Kehl, Dortmund's former captain who is now head of their licensed player division. He spoke on behalf of the majority of the 81,365 fans in the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday as they revelled in the return of one of their heroes – in more than just a physical sense.
Aside from an hour in Dortmund's 1-0 opening UEFA Champions League win at Club Bruges, Götze has had to sit and watch as his team-mates have taken the Westphalians to the top of the Bundesliga. In their last three Bundesliga games, he did not even make it into the 18-man matchday squad, with questions inevitably raised about his ongoing absence.
With Favre's fantastic five delivering eye-catching results, Götze will still have to wait for his minutes, with Favre aware it is "not easy for all of them" to be rotated from game to game. "But Mario's got an absolutely professional attitude, and he's proven that," added sporting director Michael Zorc, as encouraged as anybody to see any frustration at not being involved channelled in the best possible way as Dortmund opened up a four-point advantage over Bayern on Matchday 7.
Dortmund can sit proudly on that advantage during the international break with optimism flooding back, thanks to the blistering form of Paco Alcacer and the long-awaited return of Götze.
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