Borussia Dortmund were only 10 minutes into 2021 but it seemed as though Marco Reus was determined to start the new year the same way the club had ended the last one.
Despite a quick run of play that saw the German forward ping pong the ball and himself off a number of eager team mates, Reus found himself through on goal against Wolfsburg keeper Koen Casteels only to then blink first and hit a tepid left-footed shot off the keeper.
Dortmund went on to win the game through a set-piece header from Manuel Akanji and then a late solo run from Jadon Sancho, but if it had been down to Reus to provide the match-winning goal the Bundesliga giants would have undoubtedly been left staring at another disappointing result.
Despite playing for 85 minutes, the German international managed just two shots, two crosses and one dribble with the ball. It was the eighteenth time Reus has walked on to the pitch for Dortmund this season and failed to find the back of the net.
Reus struggling in front of goal
Although Dortmund have had significant problems this season, with a dip in form ultimately costing Lucien Favre his job in mid December, Reus has largely avoided personal criticism for his performances.
This is perhaps partly down to his role as captain of the side and a senior figure in a team full of young, impressionable stars. However, his inability to score goals for Dortmund this season is undoubtedly having an impact on their form in the Bundesliga.
So far this season Reus has managed just four goals and two assists in 22 games. When we break that down into averages it comes out at 0.31 goals and 0.1 assists P90. Which is a notable dip in last season’s average of 0.63 goals and 0.29 assists P90.
Indeed, Reus’ goal scoring in the Bundesliga this season is currently around half that of what he’s maintained over the last three seasons and the rate at which he’s setting up goals has dropped to a third of what it was in the previous campaign. Which simply can’t be overlooked for a struggling team like Dortmund.
When we look at the forward’s xG over the last three seasons we find a player that over-performed for two seasons, before his goalscoring fell in line with an improved average xG. However, when this season’s xG of 0.52 P90 is compared to his goal scoring average, it suggests that Reus is notably underperforming for Dortmund in front of goal.
Having picked up a number of long-term injuries over the course of his career and now at 31 years of age (32 in May), it’s understandable that Reus wouldn’t be as prolific in front of goal as he once was. But the drop off that we’ve seen this season is a little more dramatic than a simple case of a player getting older.
As captain and fan favourite at Dortmund, it’s understandable that any coach - especially an interim one like Edin Terzic - would be loathed to drop Reus. But if his form in front of goal doesn’t improve quickly it’s unlikely that the club’s form is going to drastically improve anytime soon.