MANCHESTER: In this file photo taken on April 06, 2021 Dortmund’s German forward Marco Reus (left) celebrates after scoring the equalizing goal with Dortmund’s Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland during the UEFA Champions League first leg quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England. – AFP

BERLIN: Marco Reus is set to rekindle his blossoming partnership with Erling Braut Haaland tonight as Borussia Dortmund bid to hand Manchester City another Champions League quarter-final exit. Dortmund captain Reus, 31, is back to his best after struggling with poor form and injury this season, reveling alongside the 20-year-old Haaland.

Reus has scored in Dortmund’s last two games with Haaland, their top scorer this season with 33 goals in 34 games, providing both assists. In nearly a decade at Dortmund, Reus has played as an attacking midfielder behind talented strikers such as Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Paco Alcacer.

Reus is full of praise for his team-mate, who grabbed headlines earlier this season as the youngest player to score 20 Champions League goals. “I’ve never seen anyone like Haaland at this club,” Reus told the ‘Kicker meets DAZN’ podcast. He’s unique and still very young. He’s developed massively over the past six to nine months.”

Reus scored what could prove to be a crucial away goal in their 2-1 first-leg defeat in Manchester when his effort, from Haaland’s brilliant pass, curled past City goalkeeper Ederson. A 1-0 home win, or victory by at least two clear goals, on Wednesday would send Dortmund into the semis to face either holders Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain.

City remain on course for a historic quadruple of Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup successes despite a shock defeat against 10-man Leeds on Saturday. Pep Guardiola’s City are desperate to reach the last four after exiting at the quarter-final stage in each of the last four seasons.

‘He’s a legend here’
With Reus in full flow and splitting defences with his smooth passes, Dortmund can throw off their erratic Bundesliga form and play like one of Europe’s best teams. “He is a big legend here and we need him at his best,” Haaland said of Reus in January. “He has a vision that no one else has.”

After converting Reus’ silky pass to score at home to Sevilla in the last 16, Haaland celebrated by simply lifting his captain clean off his feet. The Norway attacker has not scored in his last five games for club and country after three blanks on international duty last month.

Yet while defenses worry about containing Haaland, Reus has been revelling in the extra space Haaland’s runs often provide. “He’s become really good with the ball at his feet and with a defender at his back,” said Reus. “That wasn’t the case when he first joined us, but his achievements and goals give him an unbelievable power that helps us.”

Reus picked up a knock following his goal in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Stuttgart after Haaland stepped over the ball and let it roll to his unmarked skipper. After Reus limped off midway through the second-half in Stuttgart, Dortmund’s caretaker coach Edin Terzic said he is “confident” his captain will face City.

Yet Reus is one of the most injury-prone players in Germany’s top-flight. Since 2010, Reus has suffered at least 21 injuries. Despite making his Germany debut a decade ago, fitness issues have limited Reus to just 44 appearances for the national team. Heartbreakingly, Reus missed Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph after tearing ankle ligaments in the final warm-up match before the team flew to Brazil. – AFP