Marco Reus must start at the World Cup | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 04.03.2018
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Opinion

Marco Reus must start at the World Cup

Dortmund's talisman scored his third goal in as many games this weekend. After a nine month injury absence, he is showing once again why he is still the best Germany have got in his position, writes DW's Ed McCambridge.

The timing couldn't be better. On Saturday, a third goal in as many matches provided the greatest evidence yet that Marco Reus is beginning to return to full power. His nonchalant waltz past onrushing RB Lepzig goalkeeper Peter Gulasci, and the composed finish that followed it, demonstrated  the composure and eye for goal that few Bundesliga forwards can match.

Circumstances haven't often fallen in Reus's favor. He's spent Germany's last three international tournaments, including their successful 2014 World Cup campaign, watching from his sofa, sidelined through injury. Recurring ankle and groin issues have limited the 28-year old to just 28 caps, a paltry figure for a player of his talent. Performances since returning from his latest setback, however, suggest Russia 2018 might finally provide the stage for one of Germany's brightest attackers to flourish. 

But he faces stiff competition. Leroy Sane's performances for Pep Guardiola's runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City have been nothing short of phenomenal as he's nailed down a spot in a multi-talented team. The former Schalke winger, 22, has eight goals and 11 assists this term and those figures should offer him an excellent chance of starting on the left wing when Germany line-up to face Mexico on June 17th. 

Equally Julian Draxler, who has occupied the role in the absence of Reus at previous tournaments, will feel his chances of cementing a place in the team have improved following news of Neymar's broken metatarsal. The PSG winger has had his opportunities limited since joining from Wolfsburg for €45m in the summer of 2016, following the arrivals of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria. He'll hope that performances at the 2017 Confederations Cup, in which he captained a young Germany side to glory, will give him an edge over the competition.

One thing Reus has over both of them is his status, when fit, as a guaranteed starter for his club. Dortmund are a different side when he's available. Indeed, Peter Bosz might still be in with a job had Reus not missed the entirety of his reign with the injury picked up in last May's German Cup final victory over Frankfurt.

Fußball Bundesliga Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Borussia Dortmund | Jubel Marco Reus (Getty Images/Bongarts/C. Koepsel)

Reus celebrates scoring against former club Gladbach on February 18th

He should also head into the summer fully focused, away from the glare of the transfer spotlight. Something which can't be said of Draxler. While undoubtedly a superstar, Reus' injury record makes him a high-stakes gamble for any of the clubs which could afford him. Löw will want his chosen starters to be fully-focused on the competition, and not on the big money moves that await once the tournament is over.

But there's more to it than speculation. Reus' emphatic return immediately following a lengthy spell on the sidelines has shown that this is a player desperate to make up for lost time. What's more, none of his pace, composure or dribbling ability appear to have deserted him. He's managed 45 goals in his last 88 Bundesliga starts; a record made even more impressive given his injury record. It's also evidence of an eye for goal superior to that of his rivals.

With Draxler struggling for game time and Sane remaining a raw, if precocious, talent, Jogi Löw should look no further than a player who appears to want nothing more than a chance to simply play football. 

Performances between now and the end of the season will be key as Löw considers his plans for the summer. If Reus can remain fit, and help fire Dortmund to a second place finish above local rivals Schalke, he should be handed the opportunity to show the world what it's been missing. 

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