Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Borussia Dortmund might prove the perfect match

Lennart Preiss

A hat-trick on his debut against Augsburg supports the theory that Borussia Dortmund's lightning-fast attacker will fit perfectly into their high-tempo game

There was something fateful about Borussia Dortmund signing Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. So the story goes, La Gazzetta dello Sport asked him what he bases his game around. Speed was his answer. His former coach, Christophe Galtier, corroborated the fact. "He's the quickest player on our team," he told France Football. "His sprints over 40 meters kill opponents, and due to that he has even caused a few injuries among those who have tried to follow him."

Jurgen Klopp has also geared his gameplan around pace, particularly on the counter-attack, with the directness of Marco Reus and Shinji Kagawa fitting seamlessly into this template, and so it was only natural they swooped for the Gabon international at the start of the transfer window.

"I have seen a lot of Borussia Dortmund's matches, and I love their style of play. My characteristics could match perfectly with the style of play adopted by Jurgen Klopp," said Aubameyang shortly before his move to Germany was announced. Now, one competitive match and one hat-trick into his Dortmund career, his suitability within the side is clear to see.

Aubameyang's decision-making at speed and lightning pace - he's been reported to have clocked a 100m in eleven seconds - makes him ideal for Dortmund's aggressive tactics: they press high up the pitch, and upon winning the ball, try and work their way forward as quickly as possible. Using a forward with powerful finishing - like Reus last season - on the flank gives his side that extra cutting edge, with the physicality of Robert Lewandowski up front occupying defenders and thus opening up space for wide players to drive towards goal.

Furthermore, Klopp loves versatility: it gives him extra tactical flexibility and allows him to switch things around mid-game if need be. Aubameyang again fits perfectly into this model, seeing as he is comfortable playing on either flank as he is through the centre, either as an out-and-out forward or just behind a strike partner (as is the case with the national team). That versatility was obvious in Dortmund's first Bundesliga match of the season, where Aubameyang started on the right but was shifted across to the left midway through the second half.

It was from the latter position that he completed his hat-trick: it's difficult to think of a better way to make your debut for a new club. All three of his goals were similar, all illustrative of his ability to make diagonal runs between opposition full-back and centre-backs - Augsburg simply couldn't cope with his movement.

With Dortmund's other major attacking signing, Henrik Mkhitarayan, yet to shake off injury, Klopp's preferred format for the season ahead remains unclear. Ilkay Gundogan started against Augsburg in that central playmaking position many expect Mkhitarayan to fulfil, but it wasn't until he was withdrawn - with Marco Reus moving inside - that Dortmund really found cohesion. This is, in part, linked to the fact this was the first match of the season, and so rustiness can be expected, but it is also illustrative of the fact that Dortmund appear more fluid within a formation that accommodates three outright attackers behind the striker.

With Gundogan often dropping into the deeper midfield role he's more accustomed to, he wasn't able to provide Lewandowski without enough support, meaning the Polish forward was isolated for long periods and struggled to get involved.

Instead, with Reus sitting in behind, Augsburg's defence immediately looked more vulnerable. Perhaps it was that simultaneous threat of pace and power, combined with the fact that Jakub Blaszczykowski was keeping natural width on the right, and thus allowing Aubameyang to make his runs closer to goal.

At any rate the tactical switch was the game's decisive moment and gave credence to the growing feeling that the Aubameyang and Dortmund connection might prove a fruitful one.

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