September 23, 2017

2015-2016 Season Preview: FC Ingolstadt

Fußball-Club Ingolstadt 04 e.V.

  • Nickname: die Schanzer
  • Founding: 2004
  • Ground: Audi Sportpark (15,000 capacity)
  • Colours: Red, Black and White
  • Rivals: FC Augsburg

2014-15 Finishes

  • 2. Bundesliga: 1st place.
  • DFB Pokal: 1st round exit.
  • Top Goal Scorer: Stefan Lex (9 goals)

“60-second dossier”

  • Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 7
  • Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 10
  • Number of Matches drawn: 13
  • Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 1
  • Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 3
  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 1
  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 6
  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 7
  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 2

2014-15 Season Summary

2014-2015 was the season of romantic promotions. In England, AFC Bournemouth completed their fairytale rise from the brink of extinction to the promised land of Premier League football. In Italy, Carpi completed their own stunning transformation.

In Germany, this honour fell to Ingolstadt. Though their backing by Audi remains a bone of contention for some, there can be no refuting the astonishing nature of their rapid and unprecedented success.

Their promotion to the Bundesliga came on the back of a very consistent campaign. With the exception of the opening month of the season, die Schanzer trotted along very smoothly while those behind them shifted between great results, followed almost immediately by slip ups.

Going forward in attack was when Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men had most of their joy, as Ingolstadt achieved promotion with the best goal difference in the division, while they were also the league’s top scorers alongside VfL Bochum. There will, however, be concerns over the solidity of their defence, which despite playing a part in promotion, was only the fifth best in the league. Hasenhuttl and co. will surely be looking to strengthen the backline with the Bundesliga being an unforgiving league for sides with a weak rearguard.

Their most obvious strength is the team collective. While there are star players (Pascal Groß in particular), this is a group of players who have displayed their willingness to practically lay down their lives for each other. Hasenhuttl instilled a hard-working, aggressive and very energetic ethic into his players, something which was key in their success.

They may not be the most popular of promoted sides (many would have preferred to see a more traditional side such as Kaiserslautern back in the big time) and much will be made of their links with Audi (although such comments are exaggerated), but their feats are admirable for a side who have only been in existence for just over a decade. Their obvious goal for the 2015-2016 campaign will be survival, and if they can pick up where they left off, and improve their defending, such a target may well be achieved come the end of May.

Trivia

Ingolstadt’s promotion to the Bundesliga may have put the city on Europe’s footballing map, but the small Bavarian city is no stranger to the history books. Despite having just 130,000 inhabitants, Ingolstadt is a hot bed for myth and legend with the Illuminati being founded there in the 18th century. It is also the setting for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Money Matters

Arrivals:

  • Elias Kachunga – Paderborn – £1.05 million
  • Orjan Nyland – Molde FK – £700k
  • Markus Suttner – Austria Vienna – £490k
  • Romain Bregerie – SV Darmstadt 98 – Free Transfer

Expenditure: £2.24 million

The Boss

Ralph Hasenhuttl can do no wrong. When he arrived in October 2013, Ingolstadt were practically unrecognisable from the team we see today, sitting perilously close to the relegation zone in 2. Bundesliga. Fast forward two years and he has done the unthinkable in turning Die Schanzer into a top-flight side.

Hasenhuttl’s success though will come as no surprise to those who had followed his time at VfR Aalen who he transformed from perennial strugglers to a mid-table 2. Bundesliga outfit. While expectations may not be as high this season, he should not fear any pressure as he bids to guide Ingolstadt to safety in their debut season as a Bundesliga side.

Betting Odds

  • Bundesliga Champions: 1,500/1 (!)
  • Gettung Relegated: 10/11

Five-Year Record

  • 2010-2011 – 14th (2. Bundesliga)
  • 2011-2012 – 12th (2. Bundesliga)
  • 2012-2013 – 13th (2. Bundesliga)
  • 2013-2014 – 10th (2. Bundesliga)
  • 2014-2015 – 1st (2. Bundesliga)

Questions with a Club Fan

Special thanks to Alex Howell for helping out with these questions. You can follow him for Ingolstadt musings on Twitter at @Bundesliga_UK.

  • Keep an eye out for … “Pascal Groß. It could only be the former Karlsruhe player. The standout performer in the 2. Bundesliga last season has reportedly turned down offers from bigger clubs and will have to have another stand out season if we are to stay up. A great set piece taker, who amassed over 20 assists and a number of goals last season – he should definitely have the talent and attitude to succeed in the top flight.”
  • Fan favourite … “Moritz Hartmann. The longest serving player at the Audi Sportpark. He’s been around since the 3. Liga days and although he won’t feature as much next campaign as a result of the signing of Elias Kachunga, he will still play an important role in the upcoming campaign.”
  • One player I would personally deliver to another club … “Although there are no players I dislike, unfortunately it would have to be Tomas Pekhart. It just hasn’t worked out for the big Czech forward since his move from Nürnberg. Although he could still do a job for us with his previous Bundesliga experience, he would have to be the pick for me after a dismal season last time out.”
  • Advice for the manager … “Sign some experienced Bundesliga players! Although I’m very pleased with the signings we’ve made so far, we could do with some veterans so to speak having just lost André Mijatovic. Looking at Darmstadt; they’ve brought in players like Peter Niemeyer and Konstantin Rausch. Although they might not be the most talented players, they know the Bundesliga inside out – something that will be useful at the Böllenfalltor.”
  • Opposition player I admire … “Strangely enough, it would be Sven Bender. I love his honesty. Hard in the tackle, something that always gets the crowd on their feet. Also a mention for Holger Badstuber who I hope to see finally back to his best in the near future.”
  • Player I dislike … “Nicolai Müller for his antics in last season’s relegation playoff second leg against Karlsruhe. Goading a player that has just missed a penalty isn’t a great way to endear yourself to people.”
  • Tip for away fans … “Quit with the ‘FC Audi’ stuff, it’s unoriginal and untrue. Did you know that Audi have a larger stake in Bayern Munich? Our largest transfer fee is little over £1 million. Besides there were professional football teams in Ingolstadt way before 2004.”
  • Where will you finish … “One of those head vs. heart decisions. The heart says that a mid-table finish of around 12th could be possible, whereas the head says anything above 16th (or 16th if we win the playoff!). I’d be absolutely ecstatic with anything other than relegation if the truth be told.”

Crucial Fixtures Stretch

Although it may be a cop-out to suggest that every fixture is as important as the others, but due to the structuring of Ingolstadt’s season, the opening five games, followed by the next set of five will go a long way to determining their outcome. First up they face tricky games against: Mainz, Borussia Dortmund, Augsburg, Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen, before taking on a much friendlier looking run featuring games against: Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hertha Berlin.

If they can come out of the first five with some points and form, then the next five could be the opportunity to set up their fight for survival.

Verdict

Last season’s newly promoted sides experienced very different campaigns, with Paderborn blasting their way out the blocks before ultimately being relegated, while Cologne were unspectacular but plodded along consistently, picking up results here and there while never looking likely to face a serious fight for survival.

Ingolstadt may not fare quite so easily, but they should still have enough about them to extend their stay in the Bundesliga past just a debut one-off campaign. A finish of somewhere between 13th and 15th will do very nicely for die Schanzer.

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David is a rare-breed - an Englishman who loves everything to do with German football, both internationally and domestically. He is currently on a crusade to promote the game back home. You can follow David on Twitter via @DavidM33