Union Berlin-Ingolstadt preview

Matchday seven of the 2011/12 2. Bundesliga season pits together two of Berlin and Bavaria’s smaller sides. Ingolstadt have had the more iffy start to the new campaign, taking five points from a possible 18 – two less than Union. But, although tomorrow’s hosts have won two of their three league games played at the 18,000-seater Stadion An der Alten Försterei, they were thrashed at home on the opening day of the new season by another Bavarian side, Fürth. Added to that, Ingolstadt coach Benno Möhlmann can take heart from the fact that it was only an 87th minute equalizer by Karim Benyamina that denied his side all three points when the two teams last met in a competitive game (April 24).

Ingolstadt struggled last season (despite grabbing the headlines when they took Freddy Adu on trial), barely avoiding relegation. Thus, it would be no surprise if they face a similar scrap for survival this season; as their first six 2011/12 games seem to suggest they will. Nevertheless, they’ve made a few shrewd free transfer signings, and even splashed a club record €500,000 on a young Tunisian international striker called Ahmed Akaïchi. Then, as the transfer window neared closure, the club scored another unlikely coup – bringing in 19-year-old Austrian midfielder Christoph Knasmüllner (a player who only moved from Bayern Munich to Internazionale in January).

The biggest boost personnel-wise for coach Möhlmann, however, is the fact that the talismanic, Munich-born Stefan Leitl remained with the Bavarian club. The midfielder led both the scoring and assists charts for Ingolstadt last season, and will play just as important a role for the club during the 2011/12 campaign as the likes of Edson Buddle continue to adapt to the European game. The American now not only has added competition up front from the aforementioned Akaïchi, but also, from Moritz Hartmann. Nevertheless, Buddle is expected to be handed the nod for tomorrow’s game.

Union have lost a few key players over the summer, most notably Dominic Peitz (Augsburg) and the aforementioned Benyamina (FSV Frankfurt). However, they secured the permanent transfer of last season’s top scorer John Jairo Mosquera, and the Colombian has repaid the club for having faith in him by starting this season in decent form.

Coach Uwe Neuhaus hasn’t deployed the former Bremen man from the off every week, however, as Mosquera has had to share the striking berth with Brazilian Silvio and Cologne loanee Simon Terodde. The 51-year-old former BVB co-trainer has used three goalkeepers and three different systems so far this season, though now seems to have settled on using Jan Glinker and a 4-1-3-2. Other mainstays of this Union side include right-sided midfielder Christopher Quiring, centre-back Christian Stuff, and former Irish U21 left-back Patrick Kohlmann.

During the recent international break, Union played two friendly games: one against local side SSV Köpenick-Oberspree, on Wednesday, and five days before that, a tie versus no less than a strong Werder Bremen outfit. Nearly 5,700 fans saw the teams draw 2-2, with Neuhaus picking as strong a side as was possible/necessary in a 4-4-2. Neuhaus stated yesterday that the games were perfect preparation for what lies ahead, and expressed his belief that this squad now has the requisite quality; especially in attack.

But, it’s in defence where Neuhaus is lacking options for tomorrow’s game, with both Daniel Göhlert and Fabian Fritsche ruled out through injury. Möhlmann, on the other hand, will have to make do without defenders Andreas Görlitz and Malte Metzelder, midfielders Leonhard Haas and Kristoffer Andersen, winger Caiuby, and aforementioned attacker Akaïchi.

Taking place tomorrow, Union Berlin vs Ingolstadt kicks off at 12.30pm in the UK, and can be watched live on Bet365.com. The referee will be Robert Kampka.

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