Reus eyes redemption, but no Champions League glory for Mbappe

Dortmund after UCL Final qualification
Dortmund after UCL Final qualification (PC: Borussia Dortmund/X)

RevSportz Comment

There are lines from Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet that go: When you gonna realise,
It was just that the time was wrong…’

That refrain, from a song released nearly a decade before Marco Reus was born in Dortmund in 1989, could well form the soundtrack for Reus’s career. But maybe, just maybe, the final chapter could yet have the happy ending that has eluded him.

Paris Saint-Germain once again played target practice with the crossbar and post during the Champions League semi-final second leg at the Parc des Princes, but could have few complaints about the 1-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund on the night, or the 2-0 aggregate result that sent the German side through to a Wembley final that will have special resonance for Reus in particular.

The result was also the final nail in the coffin in PSG’s attempt to create a Real Madrid-like Galacticos team in Paris. Lionel Messi and Neymar are long gone, and Kylian Mbappe will almost certainly walk away this summer. Mbappe’s arrival, initially on loan from Monaco, seven years ago – as Robin to Neymar’s Batman – was supposed to take PSG to the next level, as Champions League winners. But apart from the first pandemic year, when Bayern Munich beat them 1-0 in the final, they didn’t even make it to the summit clash.

Mbappe has scored 255 goals in 306 games for his hometown club, but more than half his time at PSG seems to have passed with persistent rumours of when he would up sticks and move to Real. There has never been any suggestion that he regarded playing for PSG as the pinnacle.

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Dortmund players celebrating
Dortmund players celebrating (PC: Borussia Dortmund/X)

Reus is at the other end of the spectrum. Having learned the trade with Dortmund’s youth sides, he had to move away to establish himself as a player. But when Dortmund, then gunning for back-to-back Bundesliga titles under Jurgen Klopp, came calling, he didn’t have the slightest hesitation in going back home.

Reus was supposed to be the central piece of the jigsaw, the player who would help Dortmund reinforce their dominance at home while also helping them to emulate their famous Champions League triumph in 1996-97. It didn’t work out that way. After a decade in which the likes of Werder Bremen, VFB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg had also derailed the Bayern juggernaut, the empire struck back with a vengeance.

In 2012-13, Reus’s first year with the team of his heart, Bayern won the Bundesliga by an astonishing 25 points. Worse still, Dortmund and Klopp faced heartbreak in Europe as well, with an 89th minute goal from Arjen Robben deciding the all-German final at Wembley. A year later, Reus, a certain starter under Joachim Low, hurt his ankle in a World Cup warm-up win against Armenia. He watched from afar as a brilliant young German side in which he had been one of the jewels, lifted the trophy against Argentina in Rio.

Hummels and Sancho
Hummels and Sancho (PC: Borussia Dortmund/X)

The Dortmund golden generation never came to pass either. Klopp quit in 2015 and would go on to become a legend with Liverpool. Dortmund put together some spirited campaigns but gradually had to settle for the status of also-rans in a one-horse Bundesliga.

That could have changed last season, when they went into the final game with a two-point lead over Bayern. But Jude Bellingham, their best player who would soon decamp to Real, wasn’t fit to start, and neither was Reus. On a day that will lacerate Dortmund fans for generations, Jamal Musiala’s 89th minute winner for Bayern in Cologne clinched an 11th straight title for the Bavarians. Dortmund? They fought back bravely from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home against Mainz, but the look of desolation on Reus’s face at the final whistle told its own story.

Replaced as captain by Emre Can before the start of this season, Reus will leave the club in the summer. Wembley offers him one last chance at redemption. All those years ago, it was supposed to be the launchpad for him and his beloved team. Now, as the sand trickles to the bottom of the timer, Reus is 90 minutes away from the glory that his love and loyalty so deserve.

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