BERLIN (AP) — Marco Reus will return to former club Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Sunday for the first time with new team Borussia Dortmund while in the form of his life.
The 23-year-old Germany forward showed Dortmund can cope without suspended striker Robert Lewandowski by scoring a hat trick at Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, and has taken little time to justify his €17.1 million transfer fee.
Reus, last season's player of the year in Germany, has scored 15 times in all competitions this season — including 11 in the Bundesliga — and 11 of the overall goals have been the all-important first. He has also set up eight more in the league.
"He's absolutely world class," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said.
Reus has developed a remarkable understanding with friend and Germany teammate Mario Goetze, who has contributed 12 goals overall.
Another of Dortmund's stand-out performers, Ilkay Guendogan, was effusive in describing Reus' "outstanding" contributions and "unbelievable" shooting technique.
Reus scored twice in Dortmund's 5-0 win over Moenchengladbach in September. He and Goetze will be expected to lead the attack again, with Lewandowski still out and Julian Schieber also suspended.
Reus has fond memories of 10th-place Moenchengladbach and still has friends in the squad.
"Gladbach made it possible for me to be where I am now," Reus said. "It will always remain a special club for me."
Runaway league leader Bayern Munich hosts Werder Bremen on Saturday, aiming to maintain its 15-point lead over defending champion Dortmund.
It will be the 67-year-old Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes' 1,000th Bundesliga game as player or coach.
Bayern is yet to allow a goal in the league this year, though goalkeeper Manuel Neuer finally conceded in Tuesday's 3-1 win at Arsenal in the Champions League.
Bremen has not beaten Bayern in eight league games, and lost both German cup games to the Bavarians within the same time frame.
The visitors will look to Nils Petersen, the striker on loan from Bayern, to add to his tally of four goals from his last three games.
"Luckily, Bayern's place in the table is so comfortable that I can't hurt them with Bremen," Petersen told Bayern's club magazine.
Schalke, which has endured a midseason slump to fall to ninth place, hosts Fortuna Duesseldorf with fresh optimism after coming from behind for two morale-boosting draws — against Mainz last weekend and in the Champions League at Galatasaray on Wednesday.
Also Saturday, Stuttgart welcomes Nuremberg, Hamburger SV visits Hannover for a northern derby, Mainz hosts Wolfsburg, and Hoffenheim visits Augsburg with both sides desperate to win in their fight to avoid relegation. Hoffenheim is 10 points from safety in the relegation playoff place, with Augsburg a point behind.
"Do or die," said Augsburg defender Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker.
On Sunday, bottom side Greuther Fuerth hosts Bayer Leverkusen in the promoted club's first game since firing Mike Bueskens as coach on Wednesday.
The 23rd round of games gets under way Friday, when fifth-placed Freiburg hosts fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt in a direct duel for the last Champions League place.
"It's beautiful," Eintracht captain Pirmin Schwegler said. "Nobody expected either team to be up there, but rather in a relegation battle perhaps."