Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Ever since he became a first-team regular in the in 2009, Mesut Özil has been Germany’s undisputed danger-man in attack.
With unparalleled grace and immaculate technique, he has long been the man to create play in the final third.
Although he may well be the best creative passer in the world, Özil is a limited footballer. He lacks strength and quickness, has a weak right foot and rarely scores.
Marco Reus, on the other hand, is a complete package.
His technique and passing, though not at Özil’s level, are both far more than adequate. His pace, aggression and finishing—with both feet—are exceptional. And he put on a clinic in the first half of Friday’s match.
Germany struggled to break down Ireland’s defense for much of the opening half hour, but Reus persevered, even in seemingly hopeless situations. And one ostensibly lost cause should have won him a penalty as he chased down John O’Shea, nicked the ball away and was pulled down, only to be booked for a dive.
Reus responded in the best possible way when he struck an unstoppable finish into the roof of the net just moments later.
Five minutes before halftime, he hammered home his second, this time with his weaker, left foot, and Germany entered the break with a significant lead.
Özil went on to have a strong second half, but only after Reus opened the door.