Marco Reus, Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle axis offers hope for Dortmund | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.02.2018
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Marco Reus, Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle axis offers hope for Dortmund

The trio had only played 25 minutes of football together for Dortmund before Sunday. After their win at Gladbach, coach Peter Stöger will be hoping to make them his first-choice attack, writes DW's Matt Ford.

Marco Reus, Mario Götze and André Schürrle aren't just Borussia Dortmund teammates. The trio have also represented Germany together and are good friends off the pitch too. "We have more than just a working relationship,” said Götze.

Nevertheless, before Sunday's trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach, the three of them had only ever played 25 minutes of football together in a black-and-yellow shirt. As a result of injuries, illness and fluctuations in form, the last time they appeared together for Dortmund was against Mainz in January 2017.

Read more: Dortmund edge Gladbach, Lewandowski saves Bayern

Read more: Why VAR must be scrapped

Even in recent weeks, with all three finally available again, Peter Stöger has opted against playing them together, wary of disrupting the balance in his team.

"It can only work if we are well-organized in our transition game,” said the Austrian coach when asked why he hadn't yet turned to his potent trio. In other words, Dortmund are dodgy at the back.

But all that changed on Sunday as Reus, Götze and Schürrle all started behind Michy Batshuayi against the black-and-white Borussia from Mönchengladbach — a team without a win, or even a goal, in their last three outings, a fact which will surely have played a role in Stöger's thinking.

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

Reus scored the only goal against Gladbach, finishing a move that involved both Götze and Schürrle.

Götze and Schürrle, Germany's heroes from the Maracana almost four years ago, had already combined to good effect in Dortmund's last two home games against Hamburg and Atalanta Bergamo.

But the black-and-yellow hordes which packed out the away end at the Borussia Park will have been itching to see how the Dortmund triumvirate could combine together. And combine they did.

With just over half an hour played on a poor pitch, Götze found Schürrle on the left-hand-side of the box with a brilliant pass. Schürrle's cut-back evaded Götze but the ball fell to Reus. The former Gladbach man took a touch before curling a shot over Yann Sommer and in off the bar.

"You can see that the lads know each other well and they want to play together,” Stöger told DW post-match. "The only reason we've not been able to play all three together is because one has always been missing.”

It was the sort of combination play that Gladbach, despite a series of hugely promising situations in both halves, simply weren't able to produce.

Ahead of kick-off, Gladbach supporters spoke of their desire to see attacking football, but their team lacks an out-and-out goal scorer – which is why Dieter Hecking gave Raul Bobadilla the nod from the start.

But the Paraguayan, who scored 21 goals in 94 league appearances for Augsburg, cut an anonymous figure up front as the hosts again lacked an outlet for the positive work done by their own attacking trio of Lars Stindl, Thorgan Hazard and Jonas Hofmann.

Indeed, Hofmann's dangerous ball across an empty six-yard-box midway through the first half summed up Gladbach's problems – Bobadilla should have been there but wasn't.

Bundesliga Borussia Moenchengladbach gegen Borussia Dortmund (Reuters/T. Schmuelgen)

Borussia Dortmund's players salute the travelling support after grinding out a vital three points.

They continued to create chances in the second half but were thwarted by Roman Bürki on several occasions – the Dortmund stopper making up for some recent sloppy performances.

First, he saved from Stindl and then from Hofmann – Sokratis intervening as well to clear Bobadilla's follow-up off the line. When Bürki leapt to turn Nico Elvedi's header around the post, the home fans had that familiar feeling that a goal just wasn't going to come.

"It would be more worrying if we weren't creating chances,” said Gladbach defender Matthias Ginter post-match. "Marco Reus' shot hit the bar and then went in. For us, it would probably have bounced out.”

Borussia Mönchengladbach remain without a win in 2018, and Dieter Hecking is yet to find a solution to the recurring problem of putting the ball in the net.

With Reus, Schürrle and Götze all fit again, it's an issue that his counterpart Peter Stöger doesn't have. "Looking ahead, it's a combination that I can see working really well,” he said.

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