Kurz Era Starts in Disaster at Audi Sportpark and Other 2. Bundesliga Opening Night Notes

Marco Kurz’s Soured Beginning at Ingolstadt

Former Kaiserslautern and Hoffenheim manager, Marco Kurz, started his reign as FC Ingolstadt manager as the 2. Bundesliga season kicked off at Audi Sportpark on Friday evening. Erzgebirge Aue traveled to Bavaria in a battle between two of last season’s table cellar dwellers. However, the two clubs did not look much better as a sloppy evening of football resulted in Erzgebirge capitalizing on their opponent’s mistakes in a 2-1 away result that is sure to please Aue’s supporters as they were practically handed the win by Ingolstadt.

After starting out strong in the early moments , Ingolstadt’s implosion began when a terrible ball from Caiuby (on a back pass) turned into a perfect through ball to Jakub Sylvester, who then managed to clinically nutmeg the legs of keeper Ramazan Özcan to give Aue the first goal in the 25th minute.

Ingolstadt got new life before  halftime by the way of Aue’s Aryvdas Novikovas, who picked up his second yellow of the match in just 44 minutes of play. Ingolstadt won a late corner to end the half, but could not find the final breakthrough. Marvin Matip was excellent for Ingolstadt in the midfield, providing moments of excellent service to Manuel Schäffler and Andreas Buchner.

In the 67th minute, more disaster would strike for Aue as keeper Sascha Kirschstein went to the ground after pursuing a cross through the box. He left the pitch with a completely swollen eye and was heavily bandaged. Martin Männel would come off the bench to replace Kirschstein at keeper. Meanwhile, Ingolstadt tried to find the tying goal.

With the extra man advantage, a substitute keeper in goal for Aue, and some positive football being strung together in the opening moments of the second half, Ingolstadt gave the match away again when an errant throw-in by Danny da Costa led to another well-timed interception by Sylvester, who was taken down by Alfredo Morales from behind. Sylvster earned a penalty and Morales sent off. Sylvester coolly converted from the spot to put Aue up 2-nil.

Ingolstadt substitute Karl Heinz-Lappe scored a quick goal in the 85th minute, but Aue held on to win 2-1.

It is safe to say the Kurz era at Ingolstadt has started on rocky ground, as the man with turbulent stints recently at Kaiserslautern and in a winter stint at Hoffenheim could not guide his new club to getting any points from a match well within their grasp, especially since Ingolstadt spent the entire second half up a man.

Caiuby was especially terrible for Ingolstadt and was subbed off in the 54th minute after failing to live up to the level of play he showed last season; however, substitute Heinz-Lappe did give an inspired effort. Still, Ingolstadt failed to register a shot on target for much of the match, despite holding 62% of the possession.

For Ingolstadt, this loss is not a good sign, since Aue was nearly in the relegation zone last season. Kurz needs to ensure that his players are more mentally prepared and focused for next Friday when they head to Kaiserslautern for an away fixture that will be key as Ingolstadt  now needs to get a positive result after an absolute disaster of a home opener.

Joy in St. Pauli

After two rather sloppy opening spiels in Ingolstadt-Aue and the scoreless draw between Sandhausen and VfRAalen (encourtering featuring four of the 2. Bundesliga’s projected lower table clubs), the bright lights turned to St. Pauli’s Millerntor-Stadion. Two of the 2. Bundesliga’s more iconic clubs clashed as 1860 Munich and the hosts both began what their passionate supporters hope to be a promotion season.

With the Millerntor rocking and both teams eager to get on the pitch and start their campaigns, the first half was a physical one as the official went into his book five times in the first 45 minutes to hand out yellow cards. The intensity began in the 15th minute when Rob Friend issued a rash aerial challenge to Christopher Nöthe, which started a shoving match at midfield. St. Pauli keeper Philipp Tschauner took exception to Friend’s rough aerial challenge by shoving Friend and exchanging a few words as the two players received yellow cards, igniting what became a spirited and physical game.

In a back and forth affair, 1860 created more attacking chances, usually opting to whip in crosses to Friend and new striker Stephan Hain from FC Augsburg. 1860 attacked St. Pauli from the right flank for most of the match, completing 17 of their 25 crosses in the match from this flank. 1860 manager Alexander Schmidt frequently opted to involve right back, Marcel Halstenberg, in these  attacks.

However, St. Pauli defended well throughout the match, denying 1860 chances in the box, then hitting 1860 with the counter attacks. Finally, Lennart Thy’s brilliant run down the flank in the 80th minute led to a wonderful strike that just bounced under keeper Gabor Kilary to give St. Pauli the breakthrough. Thy’s goal would come after he was given far too much space in 1860 territory before he made his cut toward the box.

With the lead secure, St. Pauli dug in, winning tackles as Fins Bartels shut down the right flank (he finished with 13 tackles in a praiseworthy performance). Thy’s strike would end up being the difference maker in what was a hard-fought game between the two clubs who looked spent at the end of the match, showing how seriously they took getting points to start the 2. Bundesliga season in what was a good showcase of the league with much of major European club football still on vacation.

The late win will have to satisfy St. Pauli’s passionate supporters as they got to showcase their club in the biggest match of the first day of the 2. Bundesliga season. This win over a quality side sets St. Pauli up nicely with winnable fixtures against Karlsruher SC and Arminia Bielefeld next. On the other hand, 1860 they will have to settle with the moral victory in looking strong for much of the match. Strikers Hain and Friend looked like excellent targets, while new transfers Yannick Stark and Daniel Adlung performed well in their debuts. The quality and effort shown by both teams is a positive sign heading into the 2. Bundesliga debut, showcasing Germany’s often forgotten fußball gem – the 2.Bundesliga.

Header photo courtesy of n-tv.de

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