Preview: FC Bayern Munich – FC Ingolstadt
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!
FC Ingolstadt is probably thinking “All good things come in threes” and will try to finally get some points against Bayern in their third attempt in the Bundesliga.
Twice they were a rather unpleasant opponent last year already. Ralph Hassenhüttl set up his team in an attacking 4-3-3 in Munich. This even surprised ex Bayern manager Pep Guardiola and the “Schanzer” were quite close to getting a point. A driven display by the visitors showed that with a little courage and confidence, even the seemingly almighty Bayern are vulnerable.
A lot has happened in Ingolstadt though. Successful manager Hassenhüttl is in Leipzig now and Markus Kauczinski the new man on the side line. The former Karlsruhe manager has no revolution in his plans, as Ralph Gunesch already mentioned. He wants to adjust a few screws but won’t abandon the basic concept of aggressive and compact midfield pressing. The biggest challenge might be the offence. In their debut season in the highest tier the “Schanzer”merely managed to score 33 goals, only two more than relegated Hannover. From open play they only scored 13 times, as 9 goals were scored by penalties and 11 more after a set-pieces.
Hassenhüttl and his team stayed in the division because the defensive network was well organised. The distances between each parts of the team were on point and the pressing worked, too. Moving out of the chain was well timed, thus making it very hard for the opponent to get between the lines. This season this hasn’t been the case so far. Three goals conceded and one point in two Bundesliga matches against Hertha and HSV isn’t enough.
To Kauczinski’s defence it has to be said, that nearly the whole defence had to be replaced. Eight players (six of them being defensive players) left the club. Besides goalkeeper Özcan other experienced and valuable men such as Benjamin Hübner, Danny da Costa and Robert Bauer. Therefore Ingolstadt brought in ten talented and young players, all of them will need some time. On average the new signings are 22.1 years old, while goalkeeper Martin Hansen is the oldest of them with 26.
However, Bayern might come at the right time for FC Ingolstadt. Admittedly, the results are telling a different story but the structural problems of the record champion could be a chance. Even against Rostov Munich revealed a few gaps in their formation against the ball. Early in the game the visitors had a chance for a counter attack, which was carelessly wasted by Azmoun with a bad pass that landed directly in Neuer’s arms.
The new verticality in Bayern’s play results in many lost possessions. There, Ingolstadt must and will look for their big chance. The outsider will condense the centre and create superiority on the wings. Bayern have to find solutions to prevent this. On Tuesday evening, Costa often had no other choice than trying to cross the ball or go in 1vs2 situations due to the lack of support.
With two wingers, two central midfielders and Müller roaming around the centre, a lot more flexibility could be provided. The play of Munich is very lopsided to the left and therefore predictable. With two one-on-one players on the outside Ancelotti’s side could shift the ball more frequently and isolate one of the two. Against well organised opponents this method worked well in the past.
If Ingolstadt choose a similarly brave variant as they did on the 16th gameday of last season, is a guessing game. The visitors will definitely not play as passive as Werder Bremen did. Although the results for the “Schanzer” haven’t been good as of late, they remain an unpleasant opponent. If they get counter attacks similar to what Rostov got at the start of the game, it’ll be dangerous.
It wouldn’t be a big surprise if FCI believe in themselves and play a higher midfield pressing in a 4-3-3. Here and there they could even push all the way up. Several times Bayern looked impressed by consequent pressing at Schalke. It’d be interesting to see how they cope with it. The other possibility would be the aforementioned back five. Ingolstadt will have to wait for their transitions either way, but the distance through an early gain of possession would be much shorter.
Leckie is one of the league’s fastest players and could cause problems in unorganised moments. In the centre for the “Schanzer” Roger, Groß and Morales will want to provide compactness. The roles between the three players are clear. Roger is responsible for the build-up. The Brazilian must support the centre-backs but also transition quickly once they get the ball. Whereas Alfredo Morales is the man for intercepting the ball. So far he got 5 interceptions in 139 minutes of Bundesliga. In the offence it’s down to Pascal Groß, who’s not only there for assists (6 shots on goal assisted in 180 minutes), he also won 61% of his tackles.
Groß is the centrepiece anyhow. His passes have to be anticipated, if the “Schanzer” have the ball. 193 touches, 23.91 kilometres distance covered and a passing accuracy of 77% after two games show, that he’ll be the most important offensive player for Ingolstadt yet again. Even through set-pieces the 25-year old has been dangerous time and time again.
Bayern have to remedy their own problems at the soonest. If they manage to occupy the spaces better again, an opponent of Ingolstadt’s calibre shouldn’t prove an overly big challenge. If the record champion occupies the half-spaces as they have done, wingers won’t have any choice but to go into 1vs2 situations or cross the ball in the centre. Both of which weren’t very successful.
A net is missing, which is stretched over the defence of the opponent and thus offering Munich more opportunities to break into the box. This net can only be created, if players repeatedly dare to move between the lines of the opponent. Deep positioning of the central players lead to a potentially good coverage against counters, but to less players in attack as well. Ribéry moving inside should provide corrective, however he wastes a possible position on the wing.
In summary, it’s important for Ancelotti that the offence of the record champion receives more structure. The schedule should come in handy. With Ingolstadt, Hertha and HSV coming up, who don’t rank as some of the best in the league. Furthermore, Bayern now have two home games in a row. Nine points, a recognisable structure in attack that doesn’t end in a crossing marathon and higher stability when losing the ball, should be the three big goals for the Italian in the upcoming weeks.
- FC Ingolstadt 04 1-2 FC Bayern Munich (Bundesliga, 32nd gameday 2015/16)
- FC Bayern Munich 2-0 FC Ingolstadt 04 (Bundesliga, 16th gameday 2015/16)
- FC Bayern Munich 6-0 FC Ingolstadt 04 (DFB-Cup, 2nd round 2011/12)
- Bayern have won all three duels so far.
- The gap between both teams gets closer each time. In 2011 Bayern comfortably won 6-0 in the DFB-Cup against FCI. Last season an initial 2-0 win at home and then a 2-1 win in Ingolstadt.
- Besides RB Leipzig, Ingolstadt are the only team in the Bundesliga that Bayern haven’t dropped a point against yet.
- Ancelotti started well in his first season in Germany. Two wins and eight goals scored to zero goals conceded are the third best start ever to a Bundesliga campaign. If Bayern win with a goal difference of at least three, they’ve created a new record after three games played.
- Ingolstadt have been without a win for seven games in a row. No other Bundesliga team is on a longer streak.
- Whereas the reigning champion is undefeated for twelve games now. On 30th of April a 1-1 against Gladbach and on 2nd of March the last loss (against Mainz).
- Bayern hasn’t been a goal behind against the “Schanzer” yet.
- Joshua Kimmich has scored four goals in the last three matches for club and country. Three more than the whole of Ingolstadt this season so far.
- Kingsley Coman is expected to return to the Bayern squad.
- In two games the side of Carlo Ancelotti has created 34 shots on goal. 22 against Werder Bremen alone.
- Against Schalke Bayern have lost the ball 25 times. Highest number in this season. In the Supercup it were 19 times and against Bremen 12 times.
- Nearly half of FC Ingolstadt’s shots on goal come from outside the box (9/24).
- In the past season Munich mathematically sealed the championship on the 32nd gameday in Ingolstadt.
- Bayern will keep a clean sheet again.
- The starting eleven of the record champion will feature two out of the four dribblers.
- Munich will score at least three goals.
- FC Bayern will cross it over 25 times.
- Lewandowski will continue to score.