Despite playing against 1860 Munich last weekend in the Toto-Pokal, Tomas Oral had played a much-changed side against the Bavarian side and in essence the majority of the Schanzer side that lined up at the MDCC-Arena in Magdeburg had had a two-week hiatus. One may have assumed that the much-rested Ingolstadt would have sprung from their traps on Saturday afternoon, but in actual fact, the metaphorical rust was still visible on the Black-Red machine in the opening stages.
Magdeburg had been on the front foot from the get-go and were soon rewarded when Baris Atik opened the scoring. Ingolstadt were unable to come close to Magdeburg’s neat play on the edge of the penalty area – especially via Kai Brünker – and when the ball landed at the feet of Atik, the 26-year-old was able to beat Fabijan Buntic with the first meaningful effort of the game.
Christian Titz’s men did not let up after their opening goal. If anything, the Saxony-Anhalt side were camped within the Schanzer’s half of the pitch. Dominik Ernst nearly found Thore-Andreas Jacobsen within the penalty area, but the midfielder was unable to control the delivery, whilst moments later the home side spurned a succession of set-pieces after Michael Heinloth had sent the ball out of play. The real chance came when Tobias Müller extended an Atik delivery towards the back post, where Adrian Malachowski blazed over from a mere six yards out.
The Schanzer could count themselves lucky that their opponents had not made more of one of the numerous promising positions they had found themselves in. What made the situation even worse was the fact that in return, the Black-Reds themselves had been unable to muster even a fraction of the attacking prowess that Magdeburg had displayed. The best the visitors from Bavaria could create was a Fatih Kaya header that did not even reach the goal, or a promising position that saw Morten Behrens capture the ball before Stefan Kutschke ran through on goal.
Ingolstadt had been second-best for the entirety of the first half. What made that sad reality even worse, was the fact that first place Dynamo Dresden host second position Hansa Rostock this weekend – meaning that any points that the Schanzer were able to pick up in the city on the Elbe could go a long way in the 3. Liga’s promotion race. Recognising this context, Tomas Oral was quick to roll the dice at half time. Patrick Sussek, Caniggia Elva and Caiuby were all introduced by the Ingolstadt manager, in the place of Filip Bilbija, Merlin Röhl and Dominik Franke.
The raft of changes, however, did not alter the Schanzer’s fortunes and soon after referee Martin Thomsen had resumed the action, Magdeburg had their second. Brünker swivelled with his back to goal and after waiting a spilt second, slotted the ball into the far corner of the goal and beyond Buntic. Magdeburg’s number nine had provided the assist for Atik’s opener and now his strike partner returned the favour, as the former Dynamo Dresden man had brought the ball under control before finding Brünker within target range.
Titz’s side, who are in the midst of a relegation battle themselves, had proven that one’s league position is often irrelevant once play begins on the field of play. Nonetheless, with the impending aura of defeat, the Schanzer began to play more fluidly once they were two goals down. Substitute Justin Butler was at the heart of the action and set up both Elva and Kutschke for chances, although both attackers were unable to hit the target when the ball fell their way.
Patrick Sussek’s wayward cross forced Behrens into a smart parry and when the ball landed at Elva’s feet, the Magdeburg goalkeeper had to quickly recover and save the Canadian’s resultant effort. It was perhaps indicative of how much Ingolstadt had struggled to create any meaningful chance at the MDCC-Arena that one of their better chances had originated in a miss-hit cross. It was also telling that moments later, Atik rattled the word-work after a freekick from twenty-yards – it displayed the dichotomy that Titz’s attack had consistently cut through the Schanzer at will all afternoon.
Thomsen signalled for full-time and Oral’s men had slumped to their first 3. Liga defeat in six matches. Ironically, that previous reverse had come against Dresden and perhaps indicated that the former East Germany was not a happy hunting ground for the Schanzer this campaign. With the Schanzer up against two sides from this area of Germany - Dresden and Rostock – in the race for promotion, Kutschke and co. will be eager to ensure that this trend is bucked sooner rather than later.
Theoretically, many would have favoured Ingolstadt heading into Saturday’s match, but once again, football’s old adage that anyone can defeat anyone had been proven to be a universal truth. The Schanzer face Bayern Munich II next weekend – another relegation-threatened side that the Black-Reds are likely to be championed against – but on this occasion, Ingolstadt will have to do what they failed to achieve in Magdeburg and prove their worth on the pitch and not just on paper.
1. FC Magdeburg: Behrens – Ernst, Bittroff, Müller, Obermair – Müller (Harant, 82’), Malachowski, Jacobsen – Atik (Perthel, 82’), Brünker (Bertram, 69’), Jakubiak (Conteh, 59’).
FC Ingolstadt 04: Buntic – Heinloth, Keller, Schröck, Franke (Caiuby, 46’) – Gaus, Stendera – Röhl (Elva, 46’), Bilbija (Sussek, 46’) – Kaya (Butler, 62’), Kutschke.
Goals: 1-0 (Atik, 12’), 2-0, (Brünker, 51’).