On Tuesday night Borussia Dortmund came perilously close to pulling off the impossible. Chasing a three goal deficit following their first leg defeat to Real Madrid in the quarter-final of the Champions League, the German side were 2-0 up heading into the break after Ángel Di María had seen his penalty saved a quarter of an hour into the game.
Unfortunately for Dortmund, they were unable to add to their first-half double, crashing out of the competition despite their best efforts at the Westfalenstadion. Jurgen Klopp's team impressed across the park in the encounter, but one performer stood out in particular - Marco Reus.
The Germany international ended the fixture with a WhoScored rating of 9.5, in the process securing his third man of the match award in his last 4 appearances in all competitions. Furthermore, his brace against Madrid means Reus has now scored or assisted each of Dortmund's last 8 goals over the Bundesliga and Champions League and it's fair to say he's hitting top form ahead of the World Cup.
On the back of Mario Götze's switch to Bayern Munich, there was further pressure heaped upon Reus to provide the goalscoring and creative threat from behind lone frontman Robert Lewandowski and the 24-year-old has gone above and beyond to ensure he's lived up to his billing. With 13 goals and 9 assists in 25 league appearances, the young attacker is on course to better his return from last season (14 goals and 9 assists).
Franck Ribéry and Roberto Firmino (both 10) are the only players to have provided more assists in Germany's top tier, while only a handful of players have scored more Bundesliga goals this season. The performances of Reus have seen his average WhoScored rating reach 7.83 this term, which only Robert Lewandowski (8.03) of every Dortmund player can better and is the 9th highest of every regular in the division.
More importantly, however, is that this figure is a significant improvement on his rating from last season (7.56) and it's evident that Reus has stepped up his game following the departure of Götze. This is evident in the number of key passes he's executing (2.8 this season compared to 1.8 last) and dribbles he's completing (2.8 to 1.4). Furthermore, the increase in the shots per game the German's taking (3.6 from 2.7) points to a rise in confidence and a developed understanding of his role at the club this season under Klopp.
Losing a player of Götze's quality would undoubtedly have hindered the attacking fluidity of Dortmund and though the acquisition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan eased his loss, Reus' form has ensured they aren't missing the now Bayern midfielder as much as initially feared. His attacking influence in the starting XI is perhaps highlighted best in the number of goals per game Dortmund are netting with him (2.38) compared to without (1.75).
Granted, collectively the team are netting fewer per game this season (2.2) than last (2.4), but Reus has been pivotal in maintaining Dortmund's impressive goalscoring exploits, as his performances of late show. Only Roberto Firmino (16) has created more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities than Reus (14) in the Bundesliga this season, accentuating his innovative ability to find holes in opposition defences.
Moreover, Reus' inventiveness has benefitted Lewandowski, with no player netting more goals (17) and the Pole scoring the most clear-cut goalscoring opportunities (15) in Germany's top tier this term. Though the 25-year-old is following Götze to Bayern this summer, the creativity of Reus has allowed Dortmund to capitalise on his goalscoring capability before he departs for the Allianz Arena at the end of the campaign.
However, having confirmed that Adrián Ramos is to be joining Dortmund once the season draws to a close, it's not as though the club have an insufficient replacement lined up. The Colombian has 16 league goals to his name this season and in a team boasting the likes of Mkhitaryan, Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ramos should be able to build on this return at his new club.
Looking at the statistically calculated strengths he's developed, it's obvious Reus is well on his way to becoming one of football's best creative players. The displays of the young attacker between now and May will go a long way to ensuring Dortmund don't end the season empty handed, with the team facing Wolfsburg in the DFB-Pokal semi-final next week.
Should they fail to navigate their way past their Bundesliga rivals, whispers that he could leave the club at the end of the season will likely grow louder and it's without question that a player of Reus' calibre deserves to be plying his trade amongst Europe's elite, though it would take a hefty fee to convince Dortmund to sell. Klopp's side may have been unable land their 9th domestic title, with the Bundesliga wrapped up by Bayern at the end of March, but Reus' performances will ensure Die Schwarzgelben are guaranteed to return to the Champions League again next season.
How impressed have you been with Marco Reus' performances this season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below
All statistics courtesy of http://www.whoscored.com where you can find yet more stats and player ratings.