Ingolstadt – A promoted side has never picked up six points from their first three Bundesliga outings, with the points coming away from home, ever since there have been three points for a win.
Not even the most optimistic of people would have had FC Ingolstadt 04 down to achieve that, so bundesliga.com spoke to their captain Marvin Matip to find out what exactly is going on at the Bavarian club.
bundesliga.com: Marvin Matip, three games and six points from two away matches – would you have thought that possible a few weeks ago?
Marvin Matip: Of course you do have a certain amount of hope subconsciously, although realistically nobody would have expected a result like this. We're more than happy with our six points. It's a great start, but it doesn't change that we still need another 34 points if we want to stay up. We've arrived in the Bundesliga now, but it's a long way to go until we reach the finish line.
bundesliga.com: Is it just a coincidence that the two wins have come away from home, or are away games easier for promoted sides?
Matip: Let's not forget that our only home game so far was against Borussia Dortmund, so quite a challenge in itself. They cruised into the UEFA Europa League and were playing like they were in the UEFA Champions League, and they even look strong enough to win the title this year. I think we're not the only ones who will struggle at home to this Dortmund side this season. The fact is we were always on a par with our hosts in our away games, even if we also had a bit of luck, and I think we're going to have a chance against these sides when we play them at home too.
bundesliga.com: Ingolstadt are regarded as frustrating opponents because you always fight and run hard. Is that something you can keep up for an entire season?
Matip: I really hope so! However, only time can tell if we succeed. We do have a plan B and we're no longer attacking our opponents right on the edge of their own area, but more when they approach the halfway line – and that should save us a bit of energy. At the end of the day, though, we know that we're going to have to give it 100 per cent if we want to have any chance at all.
bundesliga.com: You only had one new signing in the team which beat Augsburg 1-0 – is this also a factor?
Matip: Well the team are really happy about this situation because it's not often that a promoted club doesn't make many changes. More often than not, clubs look to fill the squad with players who already have Bundesliga experience, but Ingolstadt are doing things differently. As soon as we were promoted, we said that we wanted to keep the team as intact as possible and it's good to see the club keeping their word. We, the team, are trying to pay this faith back. We were already a strong unit last season, and we're going to be the same again this year.
bundesliga.com: You were rated as the best central defender in Bundesliga 2, you are Ingolstadt's captain and a key player – they must have been lining up for you…
Matip: Maybe they were! But I know who I have to thank for my current status, and that is Ralph Hasenhüttl. After a few months sizing everything up, he placed his faith in me and made me his captain, and that gave me a huge boost. He told me that it's totally fine to have a moment of bad form, but that I always had to be prepared to push myself to the limit and lead the way. That's why I can see my near future in Ingolstadt. I want to be a part of this amazing success story and still be playing in the Bundesliga for this club next season.
bundesliga.com: Describe to us what kind of a person you are...
Matip: I think that I'm the kind of a person who always tries to push himself to the limit and be a role model for others. I would also like to pass down the experience I have had. I'm delighted when I can help the team week in, week out and let's hope it continues like this for a few years yet (smiles).
bundesliga.com: You used to play with your brother Joel in VfL Bochum's youth team. Do you dream of one day playing with him at the same club again?
Matip: Unfortunately we only played once together professionally and that was in 2013 for Cameroon, on my one and only cap. I'd love it to happen more often, be it for the national team or at club level. However, I'm not so sure we're going to manage it. But we'll be up against each other in October when Ingolstadt go to Schalke and we're both really looking forward to that!
Interview by Andreas Kötter