Ingolstadt must avoid second season syndrome | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 22.08.2016
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Ingolstadt must avoid second season syndrome

The Bavarian club may have a new coach and added some smart signings but an exodus of key players may mean this coming season will be even harder than their debut in the top division last year.

FC Ingolstadt surprised us all with an 11th-placed finish in the Bundesliga last season but with a new coach and a relatively untested squad of players avoiding relegation looks as though it may be just as hard a second time round for the Bavarian side.

Transfers: Unwanted upheaval

As is frequently the case in the modern game, unexpected success from smaller clubs often leads to a dismantling of the team by even bigger sides and budgets. Unfortunately that's exactly what has happened at Ingolstadt this summer.

First choice central defender Bruno Hubner has left for mid-table rivals Hoffenheim, while young right-back Danny da Costa has moved on to Bayer Leverkusen. Add goalkeeper Ramazan Ozcan and key central forward Elias Kachunga to that list of departed stars and it quickly becomes clear what problems this club face in the coming season.

The Bundesliga side have tried to offset said departures with smart signings but it remains to be seen just what they can offer in the coming season. Young Boys right-back Florent Hadergjonaj should do well to replace Da Costa, while Marten Hansen will almost certainly step in to Ozcan's role as first-choice keeper. Not to mention potential talent Sonny Kittel from Eintracht Frankfurt.

Head coach: Markus Kauczinski

Perhaps the most impressive signing of all has been the new coach, Markus Kauczinski, who replaces new RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, and brings with him a notable air of optimism.

Although Kauczinksi has never coached in the Bundesliga he does have plenty experience in the 2.Bundesliga and with making the most of a limited side, as we saw during his time at Karlsruhe.

Joining the club in 2012, the coach oversaw Karlsruhe win the 3.liga and promotion to the 2.Bundesliga and then helped build a side that then finished fifth and third in the following two seasons. If there's a coach who can take Ingolstadt further rather than backwards it may well be this man.

Key player: Pascal Groß

In Pascal Groß Ingolstadt have a midfielder who can simply ensure that the team are ticking along perfectly well and then interject when necessary. The 25-year-old wasn't the best offensive or defensive midfielder in the team last season but he was often man of the match when his side were pulling up surprise results left, right and centre.

Although much of the team from the previous campaign has moved on, Ingolstadt fans will be grateful that Groß has stuck by the club. His help this season will undoubtedly be necessary if the club are to avoid the drop.

Prediction: Relegation beckons

Despite the arrival of Kauczinski Ingolstadt have simply lost too many good players from a squad that was already lightweight in individual talent. Last season was something of an oddity as we saw both Ingoltstadt and Darmstadt avoid the drop.

With Freiburg and RB Leipzig gaining promotion the room for error will be much smaller in this season’s Bundesliga and Ingolstadt look most likely to come in to trouble before anyone else.