Dortmund 3-0 Spurs: Aubameyang exposes Wimmer

A horrendous display puts us on the verge of a Europa League exit as it finishes Dortmund 3-0 Spurs in Germany.

There was little to admire from us in Thursday night’s capitulation in the Westfalenstadion where it finished Dortmund 3-0 Spurs. The German side were much quicker in their play, more precise in their passing and operated at a tempo that our much-changed team couldn’t live with.

There was a lot going on in the game from a tactical standpoint. Dortmund’s use of Julian Weigel, the late third man runs of Erik Durm and the clinical through-passing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan were all a constant theme.

However, there were two highly prevalent factors at the centre of our capitulation. The first was the play of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, which was exposing Kevin Wimmer’s naive movement. The second was the lack of protection for Wimmer and the rest of our back four from Tom Carroll and Ryan Mason.

Spurs quick start

Before we were shunted backwards and in to playing much of the game in our half, there was a bright start.

With Harry Kane on the bench and without a recognised centre forward, Mauricio Pochettino opted for a front three of Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-Min and Nacer Chadli. Son and Chadli often rotated in and out of the number nine position with Eriksen floating in from the left. The trio caused the game’s first chance by trapping Dortmund nicely in their half, forcing a turnover. Eriksen took the ball, but could only shoot tamely at Roman Weidenfeller.

This set up also had an interesting use of Josh Onomah who would drop deep during the defensive phase, but then try and get out to expose left back Marcel Schmelzer when we had the ball. Onomah’s pace gave his opponent trouble and forced several corners, as well as allowing Kieran Trippier to get a couple of decent crosses in. Without a recognised centre forward though, these were wasted.

Dortmund pressing

Both teams are renowned for their pressing and it was Dortmund that had the upper hand for much of the match with their insistence to swarm and keep us out of the centre of the pitch.


Dortmund swarm Chadli.

The German side were often first to the loose ball, but used their trio of Castro, Mkhitaryan and Weigel to swamp the ball carrier. These three were aided by Erik Durm and Marco Reus pinching in from their wider starting positions, which saw us struggle to get out of our half.

On the occasions we did escape it was because we played the ball over much longer distances, either switching the play from side-to-side in one pass or by sending it long on the diagonal. This pass is something Toby Alderweireld has made his calling card this season. However, without Dele Alli or Harry Kane to look for, we didn’t have the personnel to make this work and so the ball was coming quickly back.

Aubameyang vs Wimmer

With everything else going on around, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the real thorn in our side throughout the game. The centre forward was dropping off the front in to the spaces left between the lines by Tom Carroll and Ryan Mason. From this position, Aubameyang could then either feed team mates in or send the ball out wide and race in to the box himself where he was also being smart. The forward was trying to pull on to a full back in order to use his height and strength advantage. This was giving Kevin Wimmer a real headache of when to come out and when to sit that he never got to grips with.

Wimmer got a warning as early as the sixth minute. He was sucked out by Aubameyang’s initial movement and then retreated as the centre forward got on the ball. This left Wimmer in no man’s land and Aubameyang free to pass in to Erik Durm’s run that saw the midfielder fire the ball just past the post.


Aubameyang gets between the lines and Wimmer gets exposed.

Minutes later and Aubameyang was at it once more. Again, Wimmer started to come short with him and then stopped. This left the Gabon international free to play the ball out to Schmelzer to send in a cross. Aubameyang had raced in to box and tried to get himself on Ben Davies. As the cross came in, Tom Carroll fortunately got back to make enough of a nuisance of himself that Aubameyang’s could only scuff his volleyed effort just over.

The move was a warning as Dortmund took the lead through Wimmer’s naivety and Aubameyang pulling off to get isolated on Ben Davies again.

We failed to clear and as the ball went wide to Schmelzer, Wimmer had Aubameyang comfortably marked.


Wimmer marks Aubameyang.

Wimmer wasn’t in the centre, but should’ve left Ben Davies to play the position, but instead decided to leave Aubameyang and dart back inside. This left the centre forward with a free run to get inside Davies and use his superior leaping ability to nod home. Wimmer was left marking fresh air.

High line

With Dortmund dominating the first half, Mauricio Pochettino made some changes at the break. He was obviously concerned with how deep we were sinking and struggling to get out of our half, so he opted to play a much higher line after the interval.


Hgh line early in the second half.

This had its merits; it also allowed Aubameyang’s speed and his penchant for running in-behind defences to come in to play. On 50 minutes he was sent through from Mkhitaryan’s pass, but shot across goal with Castro then dinging the ball back out off the post.

Dortmund would then add their second from a corner and not long after the high line, space between the lines and Wimmer’s uncertain decision making saw them pretty much seal the tie with their third.

With no pressure on Julian Weigel, the defensive midfielder could easily play the ball in to Aubameyang who had come short in to the space between the lines. Mason and Carroll were again out of the game and this once more caught Kevin Wimmer in two minds, allowing Aubameyang to easily skip away from him.


Aubameyang comes short, sucking out Wimmer.

Toby Alderweireld was forced out amd he couldn’t stop the Gabon international, who was now in full flow, and our defence was all over the place. Kieran Trippier was left marking Reus and Castro and as he went towards Aubameyang’s pass to Castro, Reus darted in to the space behind him. Wimmer, who had been sucked out, couldn’t recover to get back to Reus and a retreating uncoordinated, unorthodox mid-air sweep kick attempt at a clearance summed up his evening. Suddenly, it was Dortmund 3-0 Spurs.

Corner conundrum

In between the two goals from open play that were in large parts due to Aubameyang’s movement, Dortmund also scored from a corner. Their set piece was aided by poor defending from the pair that were operating in front of Wimmer and also the central defender himself.

Ryan Mason left Tom Carroll 1v2 from the short corner as he switched off. Kevin Wimmer then allowed Subotic to get the run on him and glance a header in to the path of Marco Reus. The look of disgust on Hugo Lloris’ face after Reus smashed home summed up our horrendous marking.

Dortmund 3-0 Spurs overall

Credit where its due, Dortmund were excellent. We did ourselves no favours by playing in to their hands through the inexperience of some of our players in our team selection. Kevin Wimmer had a shocker and was led a merry dance by the movement of Aubameyang, but he wasn’t aided by Tom Carroll and Ryan Mason leaving such large spaces between the lines on front of him. Had we closed this area off then the game may have taken on a different complexion.

Final score: Dortmund 3-0 Spurs.

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14 Responses to Dortmund 3-0 Spurs: Aubameyang exposes Wimmer

  1. Glenn 12th March 2016 at 6:52 pm #

    Good write up

    LOL Tom Carroll looks more like a mascot than a player (2nd photo down)

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 12th March 2016 at 7:36 pm #


  2. james 12th March 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    Thank you Mark, your post is an unexpected delight on a Saturday evening!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 12th March 2016 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks James, sorry it couldn’t have been about a better game or performance!

  3. ashleycollie 12th March 2016 at 10:18 pm #

    Nice to see you back here, Mark…well explained. But I think Verts’ injury has caused a domino effect that in turn led to the Carroll/Mason axis. With Jan out, Toby and Kev (he’s been thrown completely into the deep end, playing every game) are playing most of the games without a rest, and then when Toby is rested, Dier, who hasn’t been rested at all, has to play CB. The guy’s an absolute trooper, and would run like a horse till his heart gives out, but he needed a week’s rest (with a rumor of a knock as well). Then with Dembele obviously unable to play two games in a short span because of a persistent groin problem, we were left with Ryan/Mason. Bentaleb is obviously not cutting it in training, who knows why (attitude, mistake prone, something?). So that’s what we were left with, young lads who just couldn’t do the job together. Looking forward to having Jan back to give some more class and structure and experience. And help to Dier…COYS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th March 2016 at 10:16 am #

      Thanks Ashley mate, good to be back. You’ve hit the nail on the head with the Vertonghen injury situation and the knock-on effect it is having.

  4. Chris 12th March 2016 at 11:31 pm #

    Nice write up – I wasn’t so aware of WImmer being the problem on Thursday – I was shielding my eyes perhaps too much. I think Carroll has improved a lot this season, but he’s the guy to bring on if you want to retain possession better to close out a game, not one to start as a defensive midfielder.

    And Mason … oh Mason… I just don’t like to see this guy on the pitch playing for us. I’ll always support someone in the shirt, but I just don’t think he’s up to it. And it’s not effort, I think it’s just he doesn’t have a football brain. He gets caught in the wrong position all the time, he switches off, he consistently makes the wrong choice, and just doesn’t really seem to be aware of what’s going on around him much of the time.

    I swear I saw him try to take a quick free kick deep inside our half on Thursday, when we were already 2 or 3 down. At this point it’s obvious to people who aren’t even watching the match that we should be time wasting, getting into position and trying to limit the damage.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th March 2016 at 10:22 am #

      Completely agree about Carroll. Both he and Mason look more comfortable further up the pitch or alongside someone like Dier that can do a lot of the defensive work and leave them to focus on moving the ball forward. The number of times they got back and tried a last ditch challenge or block highlighted not that they were throwing themselves in to everything for the cause, but reinforces your point about being caught out of position, not being aware and then trying desperately to recover. This left Wimmer exposed and he doesn’t, as yet, have the nous to deal with that at this stage in his career.

  5. Reinert 13th March 2016 at 3:16 am #

    Nice to have a pleasant read again, mark! Good job. I actually thought the same thing, Wimmer was quite naïve against a flamboyant and effective Dortmund. it could have worked with the crew we had on the pitch, but it didn’t, because of the quality of our opposition and their homework against us. COYS

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th March 2016 at 10:23 am #

      Thanks Reinert, I’m hoping the Aston Villa game write-up will be more pleasant reading :)

  6. Chazza36 13th March 2016 at 6:45 am #

    For once, I disagree, Mark.
    You make no mention of Eriksen’s lack of commitment… 62 minutes of gutless, simulated ‘pressing’ from 7 yards off the ball.
    Add that to the inept, schoolboy standard performances of Carroll/Mason and Trippier/Mason and you have half the team playing at a standard that wouldn’t be satisfactory in League 1.
    Yes, Wimmer was found out, but to saddle him with the blame is not only unfair, but blinkered vision.
    I’ve said it before. Eriksen is a fair-weather sailor…weak and less than brave. But against low standard opposition such as Villa he will, no doubt, shine and everyone will roll out the hackneyed platitudes again.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th March 2016 at 10:32 am #

      Hi Chazza, Eriksen didn’t play well, neither did a number of our lads to be fair, but for me there were a number of other bigger factors that were influencing this game. I felt that the real crux of what went wrong for us was in the Mason/Carroll/Wimmer axis.

      On another note, I am concerned that Eriksen is playing too much and will burn out like he did last season. If Poch was going to ring the changes, why not rest him as well? The guy always plays and even though he’s only on the field for 60 minutes, it is still taking a lot of energy out of him when a game or two off is what he needs.

  7. anotherwisemonkey 13th March 2016 at 11:31 am #

    Welcome back, Mark.

    I agree with you about the Wimmer, Carroll, Mason problem. Wimmer was exposed against West Ham and Swansea, and I was surprised Arsenal didn’t play Walcott against him at the Lane. He coped well in the first couple of matches, but I feel a sharp and in-form Aguero would have punished him at the Etihad. As for Carroll, he just doesn’t cut it physically in the central midfield role.

    Here’s hoping for a big response today.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th March 2016 at 3:07 pm #

      Thanks mate. Given how little Wimmer played before Vertonghen got injured, I figure Poch was hoping to ease him in during his first season. Now he is playing every game, the cracks are starting to show. I think he has the physical attributes to be a decent centre back, my only concern is his decision making and reading of the game, which are lacking at the minute. JV can’t come back soon enough, just to get Wimmer out of the firing line for a bit as he is struggling.