Prior to the start of the Bundesliga season, many predicted Giovanni Reyna would have a breakout season following his promising performances in the Bundesliga restart. However, the 17-year old budding superstar is off to an unexpectedly hot start to his campaign after becoming the youngest player to record three assists in a single Bundesliga game since data collection began in 1992. With Marco Reus working his way back to full fitness following his long-term injury, and Jadon Sancho missing the game due to illness, Lucien Favre relied on the attacking midfielder as a primary creator in his approach versus SC Freiburg, and Reyna repaid that trust producing three assists (which should have been 4 if not for a shocking miss from Axel Witsel) and a man of the match performance. While the three assist’s will dominate the headlines, Reyna’s exceptional positioning, passing, and vision should not be overlooked.
In Favre’s setup, Reyna played alongside Marco Reus behind Erling Haaland in the 3-4-2-1 formation. One of Reyna’s most impressive skills is his positional awareness and creative vision. In this match, Reyna and Reus were quite positionally fluid, and constantly interchanged positions, which caused problems for Freiburg’s defense. Reyna’s positional heatmap during this match reflected his frequent interchange with Reus, as both occupied space across the length of the pitch. In the clip below, as Reus was taking the ball of the Freiburg player, Reyna saw the space, and made himself available to receive a pass which immediately put the Freiburg defense on it’s heels. Although he did not score on this play, he demonstrated his creative vision to find the pocket’s of space where he could attack the defense most effectively.
Passing & Vision
Throughout this match, Reyna attacked the Freiburg defense, continuously using his clever movement through the channels to create an impressive seven shot creating actions, and four goal creating actions (per fbref.com). Both of the teenager’s assists to Haaland came from quick transitions where Dortmund won the ball in midfield, before finding Reyna who made the decisive pass to Haaland in dangerous areas. In the first clip below, Reyna plays a perfectly weighted pass to Haaland which crucially drew Haaland away from the incoming defender, ensuring the striker would have an open shot on goal. Reyna has a knack for these slip passes which lead the attacker slightly away from goal, but in a more dangerous position to shoot. It was a very similar styled pass Reyna made for Sancho in Matchday 1.
While the two assists to Haaland have dominated the headlines, the run of play by Reyna in the clip below, leading to a goal scoring opportunity by Witsel, is much more impressive and demonstrates all of Reyna’s strengths together. First, Reyna begins his run into the box before Thomas Meunier receives the ball on the outside. By starting his run early, the central defender is unable to react quick enough to Meunier’s one-touch through ball which gives Reyna the extra half-yard of space to turn to pass. Reyna’s impressive vision to not only recognize the space for the run initially, but to pick out Witsel amongst five Freiburg defenders is exceptional.
The playmaking ability Reyna displayed against SC Freiburg is that of a seasoned professional, not of a 17-year old in just his 5th Bundesliga start. He earned a standing ovation from the roughly 11,000 Borussia Dortmund fans as he left the pitch, gained the nickname “The American Dream” from Haaland, who benefitted the most from his sensational performance. The sky is the limit for Reyna, and there is no doubt he will continue to make a positive impact on the Schwarzgelben.