Augsburg - There was no doubting the main talking point in the wake of Borussia Dortmund's campaign-opening 4-0 win at FC Augsburg, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proclaimed his arrival in the Bundesliga in high style with a debut hat-trick.
Sterling defensive work, too
Having passed up several fairly clear-cut chances in pre-season before getting off the mark at fourth-flight SV Wilhelmshaven in the DFB Cup, the marquee signing from AS Saint-Etienne found his shooting boots with a vengeance at the opposite end of the country, dispatching three of the four scoring opportunities to come his way against the Függerstädter.
In doing so, the French-born Gabon international, affectionately known as 'Spiderman', became only the sixth player to score a hattrick in his first start in the German top flight - debuts don't come much better than that. "Before the game at Augsburg, I just told him to stay relaxed about it, and the goals would come. He obviously took that to heart," Nuri Sahin said.
Above and beyond that, the midfielder was swift to praise another aspect of the new man's performance, in that, "it's vital for us as a team that everyone contributes to the defensive work and to maintaining our shape. He did that very well."
CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke meanwhile took the opportunity to address media criticism of Aubameyang's finishing after the . "It's just typical to get a reaction like that after a single game." Pointing to the new BVB frontman's record of 37 goals in 87 league outings for Saint-Etienne, Watzke added, "we know he's going to get his share."
For his part, the man in the limelight was happy to dole out the compliments in turn. "I've got to thank Lewy, Marco and Schmelle for setting them up. Those were great passes from the lads." The trio in question, Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Marcel Schmelzer, laid on Aubameyang's third, second and first goals respectively. Quite aside from his remarkable scoring feat, though, it was the 24-year-old's blistering pace which once again stood out - never more so than when he outsprinted FCA full back Matthias Ostrzolek en route to his first goal.
Admiring the "brutal quality" of his new signing's turn of pace, Jürgen Klopp is nonetheless well aware that however impressive, speed in itself cannot be the be-all and end-all for a player in the modern era. "Auba's the classic, very speedy player who just outstrips everybody else," said the head coach and, playing to that strength at the moment, his colleagues are "feeding through-balls into his path as often as possible" - a strategy, however, which "is easy to see though after a while". Accordingly, Klopp concluded, "we need to be more variable there."
"Much more intense" than in France
On the back of his first taste of the Bundesliga, Aubameyang described it as "much more intense than in Ligue 1". Not that he appears to have had all too many problems adjusting to it thus far - although paradoxically, having taken his bow in such spectacular style, he has potentially added to that intensity by raising the bar even higher right from the start.
Perhaps with that in mind, Klopp sought to take the edge off some of the euphoria, warning, "there will be games where it won't all go anywhere near as well". Dortmund's next encounter is at home to Eintracht Braunschweig, freshly returned to the Bundesliga after a 28-year absence. However, the Yellow-Blacks, with their new frontline speed merchant, are unlikely to be in a sentimental frame of mind for the meeting.
Reinhart Kruse in Augsburg / Angus Davison