New faces are coming to the Bundesliga next season, taking over for the fallen SC Paderborn and FC Freiburg. For the promoted teams, you might not have heard of them before or if you have heard of them, you might not know that much about them. They all have fight, as evident from the last match day in the 2.Bundesliga, but what makes them different? If you have any interesting information on the teams, be sure to comment!
Champions of 2. Bundesliga
Manager: Ralph Hasenhüttel
Location: Ingolstadt, Bayern/Bavaria
Population: About 130,000
Town famous for: Audi, military history
FC Ingolstadt is the youngest club in professional Germany football, as they were founded in 2004. One might have heard of them because of their financial backing by Audi Group subsidiary Quattro GmbH, whose headquarters are located in the city, and for being in the same city as local hockey team ERC Ingolstadt. More than that, they should be known more for the climb they’ve made from the 4th division of German football to promotion into the first. They are being compared to the newest Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim because of their financial situation with their resident car company, and it’s impossible to tell what Audi and its groups will do now that Ingolstadt has been promoted. The company has been rather careful not to put too much money into the club, only really committing money after staying in the 2.Bundesliga for three straight years in 2013. The town is going to have a growing fanship this year, and given the pride in traditional clubs vs. well-funded newcomers that most Bundesliga supporters have, Ingolstadt may not be particularly well-received.
This is the club’s first promotion into the Bundesliga, which is no surprise considering how recent its formation in its current entity. They are the combination of two teams, ESV Ingolstadt and MTV Ingolstadt, who merged their soccer teams because of financial circumstances. The team hasn’t been below the 2.Bundesliga since winning promotion against FC Hansa Rostock in 2010 and now they are hoping for success in the top division. The “schanzer” you’ll see on club merchandise calls back to the history of the town as being a fortified base, which the club and its fans calls themselves “die schanzer” which translates to something along the lines of “rampartmen”. They fought off a Swedish invasion in 1632 and the town is still known for its long military history.
These are qualities that former VfR Aalen manager and current Ingolstadt hero Ralph Hasenhüttl has brought out of the history books and into his squad, creating an attitude of fortitude that has brought the club to glory. They often start slow, but they always finish strong.
Despite the team never having been to the Bundesliga, there are certainly some names that soccer fans might recognize. American midfielder Alfredo Morales, who has made eight appearances with the US National team, has been with the team for two years after with Hertha Berlin. Those whose hearts were won by Australia in the 2014 World Cup will be familiar with Ingolstadt’s Australian left winger, Matthew Leckie, who had 7 goals this season. There are also names you might not have seen that are ready to put their names on score lines like team goal leader Stefan Lex and the continuously improving central midfielder Pascal Groß. If you are already a Bundesliga fan, a cool tidbit is that the club’s director of football is former Bayern player Thomas Linke.
Since they are a Bavarian club, they will of course have their clashes with Bayern Munich and certainly Augsburg. They may not have any huge opponents now because of their fresh history, but they will sure be looking to make some this coming year as they take after the dragon on their club crest, and play with a defiance and passion that will set the league ablaze.
Grounds: Audi Sportpark
Capacity: About 15,800
FC Ingolstadt opened its new grounds in 2010 on a former refinery site and is built specifically in case further expansion is needed and in the model of an English football stadium according to project manager Bernd Meier. The expansion can increase seating to around 30,000. There are also around 800 bicycle parking spots. There’s not much to be said about a new arena, but the club is hoping to fill their grounds seats with lots of loud home support to spur their team on.
Manager: Dirk Schuster
Location: Darmstadt, Hesse
Population: About 150,000
Town famous for: Science
SV Darmstadt is riding a wave that most clubs don’t even dream of riding; they have been promoted twice consecutively. This will be the club’s second time in the Bundesliga after appearing from 1978-82 and they are going to have to use all the fight they can muster to try to prolong their stay. It also seems like the soccer lords wanted the club of the City of Science to get to this position because they have benefited from incredible play and incredible luck. The club had a close call with bankruptcy in 2008 where they were saved by donations and a Bayern Munich charity match. They were also kept from being relegated in the 3.Liga because rival Kickers Offenbach faced too much debt to be allowed a license for the 3.Liga and they were restarted while Darmstadt took their place and stayed.
This past season, Darmstadt ended the season with 59 points, allowing only 26 goals, which tied them with Karlsruher SC for the lowest in the 2.Bundesliga. They did it all with what can be described as a rag-tag group of loanees and free transfers. Names like Fabian Holland, Maurice Exslager and Jan Rosenthal all put in great effort with the club in their loan spell, and the club will have to continue its magic to get more possible replacements for its departing members. They’ll still have Dominik Stroh-Engel, their top scorer this past season; and captain Aytaç Sulu , to continue the closeness that is apparent with this squad. They play as a unit, which explains their even goal spread across positions as they had a league leading 15 goals scored by defenders. If Darmstadt get a lead, they do everything they can to keep it.
Though everyone is charmed by the incredible story of SV Darmstadt, they enter the Bundesliga as now the second club in the state of Hesse. Eintracht Frankfurt will be looking for a fierce matchup with their statesmen, but other than this match up, Darmstadt left all their rivals on their way to the Bundesliga. The fierce battles that came with the promotion will of course continue with their promotion-mates as the fight to go up now turns into the fight to stay up, so expect some high-quality action when Darmstadt plays FC Ingolstadt
Grounds: Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor
Capacity: About 16,500
This stadium was built in 1921, which is both a blessing and a curse. It is named the Böllenfalltor after a combination of the poplars that are around the grounds and the city gate, though the pharmaceutical company, Merck, has the naming rights as of 2014 at the cost of 300,000 euro per year. The stadium is of course very old and its capacity fluctuates across time and across the German Football Associations rule; at one point it had around 30,000 seats during its promotion years 33 years ago. Even though the stadium is an ancient 93 years old, it has started to show its age and Darmstadt is now renovating the stadium to get it ready for the first division, essentially restructuring the entire place. They started this work already but with their promotion, they are now looking to add space for press seats and features that will support goal line technology.
The stadium project will cost 24 million euro, 14 million of which the city of Darmstadt will help pay for. Benefiting from the renovations are the American football team that share the stadium, the Darmstadt Diamonds, who play in the German Football League 2. The home support has the noise of a stadium twice their capacity and though the stadium might be getting renovated, the Lillies are looking to make their home a place to be reckoned with.
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