When it comes to major tournaments for Germany, if Marco Reus didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.
After breaking into Joachim Low’s first team for a Euro 2012 semi-final run, the Borussia Dortmund winger tore an ankle ligament during a friendly with Armenia just days before Die Mannschaft boarded a jet to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Two years on, and Reus missed out on Euro 2016 with a groin concern, as a once-prodigious career transformed into one that was highlighting the perils of injuries.
On Saturday, Reus made his season debut for Dortmund against Hamburg, and after spending 259 days on the sidelines with another knee injury, the 26-year-old showed glimpses of his former self in a 70-minute run-out.
Typically tasked with a left-wing role where he’s made the majority of his 190 BVB appearances, Reus instead played as a central No. 10 – a position he should familiarise himself with if he fancies a maiden World Cup in Russia. And from the sounds of it, he doesn’t seem to mind.
“I actually prefer to play in the No. 10 position,” Reus told reporters moments after the 2-0 victory, courtesy of ESPN FC. “I’ve shown my best performances in that position but it’s hard to predict how it will look like in the future since we have a lot of players that want to play on that position.”
If Germany has “a lot of players” who prefer the No. 10 role, it certainly has an excess of those who ply their trades in Reus’ typical spot out wide.
When Reus missed out on the 2014 World Cup, Low was frank in his assessment: “Our quality in the position behind the strikers is very high. We have Lukas Podolski, Andre Schurrle, Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler and Toni Kroos to give us plenty of alternatives.”
Four years later, and it’s much of the same. Save for Podolski, who retired from international duty, the aforementioned players all remain while the likes of Leroy Sane, Julian Brandt, and Leon Goretzka have emerged as regulars for Germany. Including the players Low mentioned – removing Kroos, who plays deeper, and Muller, who should compete with Timo Werner for time up top – there will be plenty of competition on the left side of the pitch.
Ozil is a shoe-in, as is Manchester City star Sane and the cherubic Gotze, who scored the decisive goal in the 2014 tournament. Reus’ transition into a No. 10 may better suit his chances. “Maybe we’ll play in a 4-1-4-1 formation with two playmakers in the No. 10 or No. 8 positions, respectively,” he added.
Asked what he thinks about his chances of making the flight to Russia, Reus was positive: “Very good. I was in a frequent exchange with Joachim Low over the last months. We often texted and phoned and he’s always up to date.”
After spending more time on the treatment table than the pitch, it would be easy for Reus to doubt his artistry, but if the BVB star’s play matches his confidence, a spot in Russia awaits.
“Of course, I have to perform well to be a part (of the World Cup squad), but I also know that I will be a part when I perform well,” he said.
It’s as simple as that.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)