How the absence of Marco Reus affected Borussia Dortmund last season

Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /
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Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard of Borussia Dortmund (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard of Borussia Dortmund (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

Filling in for Reus

Without Reus in the lineup, his spot was often filled by either Julian Brandt and/or Thorgan Hazard in the front three. Both talented players with great games this season but still not able to offer quite the same effect with the consistency of Reus.

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Starting with Brandt, moving him into the front three moves him out of his favoured position. Throughout the season he has shown to be much more effective as a deep lying midfield playmaker instead of playing across the front. His games in the midfield of the 3-4-3 with Reus present seemed to bring the best out of him. So while he can offer the one touch play and off ball movement that Reus can, it is better served in a different part of the field.

When Brandt would play in the front three however, one of two situations often seemed to be the case. If he was playing true to the role and playing up the field, we would not see the best out of him. If he played with a free role and dropped in the midfield, we would see him in his comfort zone, but see the attack would ultimately be more of a front two rather than three, limiting the options going forward.

This can be seen in Dortmund’s 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich on match-day 28. When Dortmund were looking dangerous on the counter early in the game, Brandt would have been much better off with a third option to try and play in behind. Instead he only had Haaland and Hazard to play through, and was unable to be as effective. He also lacked the consistency in his attacking play that Reus often provides. Although hopefully his second season will help him improve his production quality.

As for Thorgan Hazard, it is more of a difference in play style. Hazard was never a bench piece, so its hard to say he was filling in for Reus. However before the injury, it did seem like the front three would be Reus, Sancho and Haaland, so in a way he was seen as a replacement down the stretch.

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While Hazard showed great end product this season, he does not offer the same build up play that Reus does. Its far from a knock on what was a great debut season, but at times he would fade in and out of games in ways you would rarely see from Reus, and the offense would look stagnant as a result.