Complete Tactical Profile of Borussia Dortmund Forward Marco Reus

Lars Pollmann@@LarsPollmannFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2016

Dortmund's Marco Reus celebrates scoring the opening goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund in Wolfsburg, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Michael Sohn/Associated Press

Marco Reus is not only the biggest name in Borussia Dortmund's squad, he's also become the face of the club.

New jerseys need promoting? A sponsor wants to run an ad with BVB players? Here's Reus smiling into the camera.

The 27-year-old enters his fifth season with his boyhood club, having taken a detour through RW Ahlen and Borussia Monchengladbach before returning to his place of birth in 2012. Under contract until 2019 after signing an extension in a moment of crisis for the club—they were fighting relegation when he signed his new deal in February 2015—the forward is likely to spend his prime years with the Black and Yellows.

Without wishing to demean his loyalty to the club, that fact is also down to his injury record.

Michael Probst/Associated Press

Reus famously missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup with an ankle injury he suffered in the final match before Germany's squad flew to Brazil against Armenia. He well could have made it his tournament, seeing as he was in the best form of his life in the second half of the 2013/14 season.

Dortmund's No. 11 would have been a definite starter for Joachim Low's World Cup-winning side, and it stands to reason that one of Europe's giants would have made Reus and his club an offer they simply couldn't have refused.

He's still chasing that form from the spring of 2014, with numerous smaller injuries often derailing his progress. Per Transfermarkt, he's missed a whopping 33 matches across competitions in the last two seasons, most often with adductor problems that Dortmund-based football writer Marcus Bark described as chronic in a piece for local paper Ruhr Nachrichten in June (link in German).

Those muscular issues cost him another tournament in the summer, with the Dortmund star learning of his omission from the squad on his birthday on May 31, per ESPN FC's Stephan Uersfeld

Seeing as Germany struggled mightily on the attack, it's easy to see how dearly they missed Reus. The 27-year-old, meanwhile, missed the entirety of pre-season to this point. He "is set to return to training in mid-August," per the club's official website.

It would mean he wouldn't miss too many games at the start of the season, which would be big for the club. Dortmund need him on and off the field. One of the favourites to wear the captain's armband after the departure of Mats Hummels to Bayern Munich in the summer, Reus has to become more of a leader in a team that saw a big turnover on the transfer market.

More important, of course, will be his on-field production. What makes him so good? Here's a breakdown of his tactical profile.

  

Strengths

When fully fit, Reus is one of the most dangerous wide forwards in the game. Having scored 76 and assisted a further 53 goals in his Dortmund career, per Transfermarkt, he's been involved in a goal roughly every 99 minutes over the last four seasons.

Those are elite numbers, especially considering it often takes him a little while to get going when he's coming back from an injury. Last season was, by all accounts, an up-and-down year for Reus yet he still managed to find the net 23 times across competitions.

The 27-year-old is able to score on a bad day thanks to his impeccable shooting technique and an innate sense to pop up in the right spot at the right time, without being a poacher.

The video below shows many of the qualities that make him a deadly finisher:

Reus knows when to smash the ball with authority and when to pass it into the back of the net. Often times he takes only one touch to set up his attempt, which can catch defenders and goalkeepers off guard.

Despite his deployment on the wings, he doesn't hug the touchline, rather drifting inside in a position to strike. He shows astonishing instincts for a wide attacker, losing markers with ease. His goal in the DFB-Pokal semi-final against Hertha BSC, ranked No. 2 in the video above, illustrated that keen eye perfectly.

Reus doesn't only create for himself, of course. Many of his assists come from set pieces, but he knows how to set up team-mates with simple through balls from the edge of the penalty box or driving diagonal passes.

He often prepares those situations with short dribbles, in which he doesn't use tricks as much as he simply runs by defenders thanks to his strong burst.

That also makes him a devastating counter-attacking player, even though Dortmund haven't had the luxury of being able to hit many opponents on the break in recent times. The Black and Yellows have evolved into a more dominant team in possession, especially under Thomas Tuchel last season.

Reus' defensive qualities still are an important yet oft-overlooked piece to the puzzle. He is surprisingly strong in duels, as tactics blogger Martin Rafelt noted for Spielverlagerung.de (link in German), thanks to a sense of timing and precision when he attacks a ball-carrier. Generally, his defensive work rate is an underappreciated aspect to Reus' game.

  

Weaknesses

His proneness to injury only partly explains why Reus hasn't quite developed into a genuine global superstar. On his day, he's capable of world-class performances, but those are too few and far between even during stretches of good health and fitness.

His overall technical abilities are good but not great, he too often loses the ball in dribbles or fails to control a pass with his first touch. This is complaining about first-world problems, of course, but a player of Reus' quality has to be taken to a high standard.

When things don't come off, Reus sometimes starts to pout and becomes self-absorbed, which takes him out of games for stretches. He'll throw his hands in the air or complain to the referee about small things. This attitude can be problematic and figures to be part of the equation as Tuchel mulls over his decision about the captaincy.

Michael Probst/Associated Press

Additionally, Reus seems to struggle with complex group-tactical elements, which explains why he wasn't as integral to the team's success last season as in previous years. Essentially, the 27-year-old was relegated to a role as a finisher in the final third, unlike Henrikh Mkhitaryan, for example.

The Armenian played on the opposite wing but was able to be creative in deeper parts of the pitch and participate in the team's build-up play due to his passing qualities.

  

Summary

Reus is a player with a somewhat limited skill set. However, that skill set is relatively unique and allows for his being a true difference-maker despite tactical limitations. If his body finally holds up for an extended amount of time, we probably haven't even seen the best of him yet.

Even though his role at Dortmund has changed considerably with the style of play developing from Jurgen Klopp's high-intensity football into a more mature and dominant possession-orientated system under Tuchel, Reus remains an important figure on and off the pitch.

Lars Pollmann also writes for YellowWallPod.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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