Mario Götze, Marco Reus and Andre Schürrle are best of friends off the pitch, but can the freshly minted Borussia Dortmund trio make the desired connection on the hallowed turf?
Götze eyes redemption
The Germany triumvirate will link up for the first time at club level in 2016/17, each with a point to prove after a three-year spell littered with personal snags and setbacks.
For Götze, his decision to go back to the place where it all began after three trying seasons at FC Bayern München was a no-brainer. Despite winning three successive Bundesliga titles in Munich, this was clearly not the same player that was the fun-loving heartbeat of Dortmund's double triumph under Jürgen Klopp in 2011/12. Injuries and a lack of first-team opportunities made sure of that.
"I'm delighted with the transfer," said BVB head coach Thomas Tuchel. "We want to use every day available to us from 1 August to help bring his talent back to the fore once more. Mario is looking for a bit more warmth from his club. It's been tough for him. Everyone knows the circumstances in which he left, but he chose to come back here. I want to see him playing with a smile on his face again."
Reus seeks end to injury nightmare
With Reus for company, Tuchel need not have any concerns about Götze falling into a rut at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. "If money wasn't an object, I would bring Götze back," Reus famously said following confirmation of his best pal’s move to Bayern in 2013. The two players had only combined for the one season in Dortmund colours, but that was all the time it took for the pair to form a lasting bond that transcends football rivalries.
Since then, Reus has endured his fair share of heartbreak, missing both the FIFA 2014 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2016 as well as chunks of the last three seasons for Dortmund through injury. Although a doubt for BVB's Bundesliga opener against 1. FSV Mainz 05, his mood will doubtless have been lifted by Götze's homecoming and the arrival of another close companion in Schürrle.
Much was made of the departures of Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but the acquisition of Germany's World Cup-winning combo of Schürrle and Götze has certainly softened the blow. Throw a fully fit Reus into the equation and BVB boast three exceptionally gifted individuals that, together, have the potential to move mountains.
Watch: Andre Schürrle's top five goals in a Wolfsburg shirt