Former professional player Ralph Gunesch played three years at Ingolstadt. In the following interview he talks about the difficulties, which his last club will face in the current season, possible tactics vs. FC Bayern and the overall target the “Schanzer” are trying to achieve.
Hello, I think most of our readers know who you are but nevertheless please introduce yourself briefly. Tell us for which clubs you played in your career and what are you currently doing?
My name is Ralph Gunesch and I am 33 years old. I finished my professional career in May. As a professional footballer I played for Alemannia Aachen, Mainz 05, FC St. Pauli and FC Ingolstadt 04.
Right now I am working as a commentator/expert at DAZN, an online streaming platform, as well as at “Bohndesliga”-Teams, for Rocketbeans TV (online TV). One thing I would like to do in the near future is complete my coaching licence.
You played at Ingolstadt for about three years in total and even managed to win the title in the second division in Germany. Tell us what is special about Ingolstadt?
It is quite a young club, still in the process of finding itself. I am happy that I was part of the team that avoided relegation and made a more positive future possible. Working at Ingolstadt was always oriented on long-term success and sustainability, which still should be the case in the Bundesliga.
Let’s talk about the current season. Your previous coach Ralph Hasenhüttl left the club for RB Leipzig. Will it be difficult to make up for his departure?
Ralph Hasenhüttl certainly was the key element regarding the positive development of the club for the past three years. But maybe a change at such an important position will be beneficial to the club. Maybe they will cause a surprise due to the fact that it is much more difficult to determine their new playing style.
Is it already possible to recognize the changes Markus Kauczinski brought to Ingolstadt? What kind of playing style are you expecting from the team?
It won’t be revolutionary. He knows about the strengths, which made this team successful in the past. In preseason it was quite obvious that he is keen on improving offensively. The main focus lies on this aspect.
The team was lacking offensively but on the other hand they had one of the best defences in the Bundesliga with only 42 goals conceded. Are they able to repeat that even after the departures of five defenders as well as the loss of Ramazan Özcan their former starting goalkeeper?
For a team that just got promoted it was quite impressive. The performance defensively was the key to avoid relegation. With the loss of Hübner and Özcan they lost a lot of stability in the backline. So, it will be difficult to repeat the performance. The main question is if the team is able to play defensively as a unit again.
Last season Ingolstadt played convincingly with high attacking football vs. FC Bayern. What would be your preferred tactic against the league leader? High up the field like last season or in a more defensive way?
They were able to keep it an open game for quite a long time. The loss was due to a lack of fitness at the end of the game, which caused some spaces. Bayern can exploit opportunities like this. I generally like the the high pressure approach, even though it is important to keep up the pace for the whole of 90 minutes.
On the other hand it is possible to cause some difficulties for FC Bayern by playing with a five at the back formation. Maybe 5-3-2 or 5-4-1? You need to close down the centre of the pitch and count on the support of the wing-back when out of possession. The main thing is not to get too spacious in-between offence and defence so that Bayern is forced to play on the wings where the support of the whole team is essential as well. (Examples: Italy – Spain, Germany – Italy, France – Germany at the Euros this summer)
To conclude… Can you predict the result for us? And maybe tell us what is the aim for Ingolstadt in a short term and long term perspective?
As much as I want Ingolstadt to do well vs. FC Bayern I have to be realistic and go with a home-team win. The target should be to establish the club in Germany’s first division and maybe pass the 40-point mark in the near future. But right now reaching 40 points as early as possible is the main mission!