Cologne - The depth of joy was exceeded only by the exuberance of the celebrations. After an outstanding season, FC Ingolstadt 04 were promoted into the Bundesliga for the first time, and so become the 54th club to compete in the German top flight.
Nicknamed die Schanzer after the Upper Bavarian city's 132,000 inhabitants, Ingolstadt have an impressive recent history. It is only 19 months ago that the club had sunk to the bottom of Bundesliga 2. The impetus came with the appointment of coach Ralph Hasenhüttl, under whose stewardship in 2013/14 the team amassed 37 points from the remaining 24 games to secure survival with aplomb. Then, in 2014/15, they eased into the Bundesliga: FCI were top of the league from Matchday 8, and by the end of the campaign sat eight points clear of fourth place.
Top of the pops
The most victories, the fewest defeats, the most goals scored, and the highest goal difference: Ingolstadt were the outstanding side in practically all departments in last season’s Bundesliga 2. With 554 shots on goal, Hasenhüttl’s troops were the league’s gunslingers, with the strikers in particular enjoying themselves, netting 32 goals from 248 shots (both league highs). Additionally, the Bavarians were the league’s outstanding team from set pieces: 23 led to goals, of which 12 were free kicks and nine corners. In total, FCI scored 43 per cent of their goals from dead-ball situations (also a league high).
It wasn’t just going forward, however, that Ingolstadt enjoyed a season to remember. With only 32 goals conceded in 34 games, the defence was arguably the rock upon which promotion was built. Whereas the average number of shots conceded across the league was 439, they only allowed 270 on Ramazan Özcan’s goal, yet perhaps even more impressive was that Hasenhüttl’s side only conceded twice after losing possession and once from a defensive error. Meanwhile, only on two occasions did the Austrian keeper have to pick the ball out of his own net after an opposition free kick, with FCI also winning the most defensive duels with a 54 per cent success rate.
Most promoted sides have stayed up
While promotion makes Ingolstadt the 54th club ever to have competed in the Bundesliga, they're the 38th new side since 1963/64 when the German top flight kicked off its first season with 16 clubs. Of those 38 sides to have rubbed shoulders with Germany’s elite, 22 managed to stay up in their maiden campaign. Only nine clubs have featured for a solitary season in the top flight to date (Preußen Münster in 1963/64, Tasmania Berlin in 1965/66, Fortuna Köln in 1973/74, Blau-Weiß 90 Berlin in 1986/87, VfB Leipzig in 1993/94, SSV Ulm in 1999/2000, SpVgg Greuther Fürth in 2012/13 and SC Paderborn in 2014/15).
1. FC Kaiserslautern, meanwhile, arguably penned the biggest promotion success story of all time after following up promotion to the top flight with the Bundesliga title in 1996/97 (the Red Devils are the only side to have done so). FC Bayern München also enjoyed great success in their maiden season in the big time, finishing third and winning the DFB Cup in 1965/66. Others to have impressed at the first attempt include Wuppertaler SV, who ended the 1972/73 season in fourth spot, Hannover 96, who finished 1964/65 in fifth, or more recently TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, who were top of the pile at the winter break of the 2008/09 campaign. Ingolstadt, amazingly, are the fourth new side in the past four years - but will be aiming to follow the example of FC Augsburg (2010/11), who finished fifth last year, rather than that of Fürth and Paderborn.
Tobias Schild and Tobias Anding