After two demanding home games against Schalke and Wolfsburg, Bayern will face another tough opponent in Ingolstadt. Last season under Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern struggled in both games against the surprise team, which was coached by Ralph Hasenhüttl back then.
Hassenhüttl is now in Leipzig and even his successor Markus Kauczinski has already left Ingolstadt again. The current manager goes by the name of Maik Walpurgis. The 43-year old is facing a big challenge, because unlike last season, the Schanzer are in a relegation fight this season.
Currently they have 15 points sitting in 17th place and are one point behind 15th Bremen. However, it’s going well at the moment: Ingolstadt gathered nine points out of the last six games and did so by beating Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig, who were top of the table at the time.
At the beginning of his reign, Walpurgis deployed a 4-2-3-1 but changed to a 5-4-1 ahead of the game against Leipzig. The former defensive midfielder Roger moved into central defence and usually plays next to captain Matip and the Frenchman Brégerie.
The defensive midfield consists of Morales and Almog Cohen for the most part, while Pascal Groß, the most important player of the past years, is playing a wider role. The fast Dario Lezcano is starting upfront.
One has to be careful with him on the counter. Right-winger Matthew Leckie picked up a knock and was subbed off against Hamburg, but could play against FC Bayern again. The Australian is dangerous with his speed on counter attacks, too.
Pressing as a trademark
With Walpurgis Ingolstadt have gone back to the very successful style of play of Ralph Hassenhüttl. Against their former coach Ingolstadt pushed forward into Leipzig’s half in their 5-4-1/5-2-2-1 formation and tried to detain the build-up play of the Saxons.
A similar approach against FC Bayern is expected. Not just last year, but also in the first half of this season, the Schanzer were capable of keeping up with the record champions through their aggressive pressing and created several chances on goal.
They’ll primarily try to lock down the middle, direct Bayern’s build-up play and disrupt it to then isolate Munich on the wings. Once the ball has been won their counters are fast and vertical. With Groß they have a great passer, in Lezcano and possibly Leckie quick forwards. Lukas Hinterseer off the bench can give the team some momentum, too.
Ingolstadt will have to play without the team’s top scorer of last season in Moritz Hartmann. He’ll be out due to injury for quite some time still.
Especially the attack of the Schanzer isn’t the best, however. This season they’ve only managed to score 17 goals and even last year Ingolstadt weren’t overly successful in front of goal. Last season it wasn’t really noticeable because of the good defence.
This year the defence is slightly weaker and there’s still no striker, who’s finding the back of the net on the regular.
That Ingolstadt fancy their chances against FC Bayern is down to the poor form of Munich recently. In every game of the second half of the season Bayern had big problems so far and they’re of tactical nature. The Schanzer could take advantage of that.
Currently, build-up play is the biggest problem of the Bundesliga leaders. The lack of structure is becoming more and more evident, while one sees less and less of Guardiola’s positional play.
The freedom Ancelotti is giving his team is leading to bad spacing and many awful runs off the ball. Especially the duo Alonso and Vidal in midfield is becoming an issue.
The Chilean is struggling with the lack of structure. He’s leaving his position too often, is moving into the wrong spaces and isn’t available for a pass or is blocking passes to one of his teammates. His passing is disastrous at times as well.
Whereas Alonso is constantly moving between the centre-backs and is therefore missed as a secure passing option in the centre. These movements are typical for the Spaniard, who’s not comfortable with the opposition’s pressure and tends to escape it.
Thomas Müller has been dealing with problems for a while now anyway. Usually he’s either pushing too far forward or is trying to create space with a lot of runs. This results in the playmaker space not being occupied well enough.
On Tuesday Thiago made his comeback against Wolfsburg. There was more structure in the game with him, but one definitely noticed the lack of match practice and form.
The Spanish international dropped back frequently trying to somehow create a connection between the defenders and attackers because Vidal didn’t always position himself correctly. Thus resulted in Thiago’s abscense in higher zones.
Altogether Bayern has a big problem in their build-up play. They’re losing the ball too quickly, have to pass it out wide early and are isolated on the wing because of it. Near the box the reigning champion is also struggling to get between the lines of the opponent.
Especially against five-at-the-back Bayern are currently missing the tools to create chances on a consistent basis. The matches against Schalke and Wolfsburg proved that.
Against Ingolstadt’s counters they’ll need a functional counter-press, however Bayern won’t be able to do that due to the poor spacing at the moment.
Any of these points could have an effect in the game against the Schanzer. They’ll try to run at FC Bayern aggressively and win the ball here and there because of Bayern’s problems.
For Bayern this will be a dangerous mix, because the defence isn’t overly stable as the last ten minutes against Wolfsburg showed. Bayern won’t create a lot of chances, as Ingolstadt only allow 12.1 shots on target per game, which sees them in the midfield of the Bundesliga in that aspect.
If Bayern are able to break through the strong pressing and utilise their individual class, they’ll win the game.
However, this game definitely won’t be a walk in the park. It remains to be seen how much Ancelotti will rotate the side ahead of the match against Arsenal. If Ingolstadt is really going to press early, a double pivot consisting of Kimmich and Lahm with Thiago as the playmaker would be an interesting and fitting choice. This game won’t be warm-up for Arsenal though; it’s going to be a tough job.
Justin’s five bold predictions
- Bayern will score at least 2 goals.
- Lewandowski scores.
- Ingolstadt will score too.
- Ancelotti will make 4 changes compared to the Wolfsburg game.
- In the first 30 minutes there will be at least one goal.
At least three predictions were correct in the Wolfsburg preview. Overall: 65/125.