Sochi (Russia) (AFP) – Four years after injury robbed him of a World Cup winner’s medal in Brazil, Germany are set to turn to Marco Reus to help rescue their Russia 2018 campaign.
The 29-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward was one of the few Germans to look dangerous in Sunday’s shock 1-0 defeat to Mexico after coming off the bench in the seconbd half.
With Germany now facing an early flight home if they lose to Sweden in Sochi on Saturday, the German media are calling for Reus to replace either the under-fire Mesut Ozil or Julian Draxler in the starting line-up as both were poor against Mexico.
“It’s not in my hands, I’m putting in the effort in training and offering myself,” said the softly-spoken Reus.
“Of course, I hope that I get to play and help the team in such an important game.
“I do not really care about which position.”
With his speed and fresh ideas, Reus boosted Germany’s flagging attack when he replaced Sami Khedira at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Reus, who has a lethal right foot, could take Draxler’s left-wing berth place or replace Ozil, who has been heavily criticised, in the attacking midfield role.
As team director Oliver Bierhoff cryptically put it, “there will be new impulses” in the starting line-up against Sweden.
Reus is aware of the calls from back home for him to start the crucial Group F game.
“Of course you hear about those, but the national coach hasn’t decided yet. He knows about the skills I have,” he added.
– High esteem –
Reus is injury-prone and spells on the sidelines have restricted him to just 32 appearances and nine goals for Germany, but he is a popular figure within the national team.
When Germany won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, they held up a playing shirt with his name and squad number on the back alongside the World Cup trophy.
It was a heart-breaking moment after the fleet-footed Borussia Dortmund winger tore ankle ligaments in the last warm-up game before the team flew to Brazil.
Having missed the triumph at the Maracana, Reus was also ruled out of Euro 2016 by a persistent groin injury.
This season has been a similar story.
After nine months sidelined by knee ligaments torn in during the German Cup final in May 2017, Reus only returned in February, but still managed seven goals in 11 Bundesliga games in 2017/18 to prove he is back to his best.
With his elaborate tattoos and slicked-back hair, Reus has a reputation as a rule breaker in Germany, which was enhanced after being fined a massive 540,000 euros ($625,000) in December 2014 for driving with a fake Dutch licence.
Jurgen Klopp, who was Dortmund’s manager at the time, said Reus had been “led astray” in his youth and his decision to drive on a fake licence had finally caught up with him.
Now the hope is that he will get Germany’s struggling attack back into line in Sochi on Saturday.