Cologne - The experts say winning at home gives promoted clubs their best chance of beating the drop, but Bundesliga tenderfoots FC Ingolstadt 04 are doing things a little differently in 2015/16.
Last season’s surprise Bundesliga 2 champions became the first team in Bundesliga history to win their first three away matches of the season after beating SV Werder Bremen last weekend, and are now looking to extend that stirring run with victory over 1. FC Köln on Friday night.
"It’s like we’re under more pressure at home than when we’re away," said Ingolstadt head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl at Thursday’s pre-match press conference. "But what does pressure mean anyway? Once again, I’m inclined to say we’ve already picked up more points than any of us expected with ten on the board after six games. That doesn’t mean we’re going to rest on our laurels, though. We need to be consistent."
With two home defeats as well as one draw offsetting that historic trio of away wins, there is indeed something rather irregular about the 54th club to play in the Bundesliga. Widely tipped to make an immediate return to the second tier along with promoted SV Darmstadt 98, die Schanzer are somehow managing to play with great freedom on their travels, but cannot for the life of them replicate those performances at the Audi-Sportpark.
First goal decisive
"It was a really intense game in which both teams had chances to score," explained Ingolstadt defender Romain Bregerie in the aftermath of Tuesday’s 1-0 home defeat to Hamburger SV. "We were unlucky to concede. In games like that it’s much easier if you score the first goal. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that way for us."
It is a simple observation, but Bregerie appears to have hit on a salient feature of Ingolstadt’s game. When they have scored the first goal - the only goal in the case of their three away fixtures of the season - they have held on for the win. Yet when the opposition beats them to it - as was the case against Borussia Dortmund and HSV - they have been unable to recover.
"We’ve shown that we’re really awkward to play against away from home," Bregerie continued. "Unfortunately we weren’t able to do it in front of our own fans against Hamburg. Now we’re going to try and pick up points again on the road. The important thing is to keep totting up our points tally. That’s why we want to come away from Cologne with at least a draw."
The rules of probability state eighth-in-the-table Ingolstadt will have to slip up on the road and win at home eventually, but until that day comes, we should simply continue to enjoy die Schnanzer for what they are. Fearless, fun and a law unto themselves.