TWO goals in the space of a minute shortly after the start of the second half allowed this quality-lacking 2. Bundesliga contest between St Pauli and Ingolstadt to finish level. While the home side did most of the attacking, with Ingolstadt looking to play on the break, consistently terrible finishing and woeful passing in the final-third cost St Pauli any hope of winning this game. They fell behind in the 55th minute when the lively Caiuby crossed for Christian Eigler to score at the near post. A minute later, though, Ingolstadt ruined all the good work they had done defensively up to that point by allowing home debutant Florian Moht a free header to make it 1-1. Coach Tomas Oral seemingly played for a point at the Millerntor-Stadion, so will probably be happier than his opposite number André Schubert, who has already stated his intention to bring more quality players to St Pauli before the transfer window closes. His side and Oral’s have now drawn both of their 2012/13 2. Bundesliga games, and the two coaches will be hoping ties against regional sides in the cup next weekend will give their respective players a chance to sample what winning feels like.
St Pauli (4-4-2, from right to left, brown shirts): Philipp Tschauner; Jan-Philipp Kalla, Florian Mohr, Markus Thorandt, Florian Kringe; Florian Bruns, Dennis Daube, Fabian Boll, Fin Bartels; Marius Ebbers, Lennart Thy
Ingolstadt (4-4-2, from right to left, white shirts): Ramazan Özcan; Danny da Costa, Marino Biliškov, Ralph Gunesch, Andreas Schäfer; Stefan Leitl, Marvin Matip, Pascal Groβ, Ümit Korkmaz; Caiuby, Christian Eigler
The game started at a relatively slow pace, with Pauli bossing possession but only in harmless areas of the pitch. Ingolstadt sat back, inviting their hosts on, with the two strikers harassing whichever centre-back held the ball, and the visitors’ wingers getting tight to Kringe and Kalla whenever possession was spread out to the chalk. As we reached the five-minute mark, the ball had barely left the second-third of the pitch, and so the home side began to up the pace. However, Ingolstadt just got tighter, faster; all the while retaining their well-positioned, close-together two banks of four. But then, a free-kick given away in the sixth minute was curled in, and only half-cleared by Ingolstadt. The ball fell to Bartels, who hit an effort at goal from long-range. Unconvincingly, Özcan parried the ball into the path of Ebbers, but the veteran frontman could only volley the ball over from about ten yards out.
Three minutes later, Ingolstadt won their own set-piece on the wing after Kalla was caught dozing. Despite playing the initial free-kick short, and then having no-one in white attack the subsequent floated cross, the visiting team got a second chance to test Tschauner when a loose ball outside the box fell for Korkmaz to strike. The Austrian winger, a shining light at Euro 2008, stung the St Pauli goalkeeper’s fingertips, but Tschauner regained the ball before Eigler – following up – could pounce.
As we approached the 15-minute mark, the pace of the game had once again abated. Although Ingolstadt’s defensive tactics limited the away side attacking-wise (despite some gallant solo or duo efforts from the isolated strikers), St Pauli’s lack of will/inability to penetrate played right into their hands. However, some quick one-twos and well-timed runs by Bruns a minute either side of the quarter-hour mark saw Pauli get in behind the Ingolstadt defence down the right, with some half-chances being worked as a result. This raised the volume in the Millerntor-Stadion, for one, and also seemed to give the St Pauli players a notable confidence boost, as both full-backs and wingers began to make inroads down their respective flanks. Yet, as one poor Thy pull-back in the 18th minute showed (the former Werder Bremen youngster first making a clever run to catch da Costa out of position, before spinning and punishing the on-loan Leverkusen right-back for diving in), the quality of every outfield player’s delivery was still lacking.
As for Ingolstadt, their best hope of testing Tschauner came from charging down the goalkeeper’s roll-outs, or punishing any dilly-dallying in the midfield. However, with three of Oral’s four foremost attacking players making only their second appearance for Ingolstadt (Eigler, Groβ and Korkmaz), there was a paucity of fluidity to the away side’s use of the ball in the final-third, making it relatively easy for the brown-shirted players to recover and mop up. The home side were lucky, mind, that Ingolstadt didn’t take advantage of even one turnover in possession, as St Pauli’s sloppiness seemed to be getting worse as we approached the half-hour mark. The only effort of note – since Korkmaz’s – the visitors had to show for their forays forward at this stage, though, was an Eigler header that ultimately fell nicely into Tschauner’s navel.
The home side’s attacking, up to this point, had also become quite predictable. Sure, St Pauli’s players did the work to get the ball to a player running behind a defender towards the byline – however, the subsequent pull-backs or crosses into the box were consistently failing to beat the deep, first white-shirted man. Those delivering the ball weren’t the only players culpable, though – the movement of Ebbers and Thy inside the box had been poor, allowing Ingolstadt time, room and ease in clearing their lines. In the 38th minute, it was a striker at the other end of the pitch who drew attention to himself in a positive way. The lively Caiuby – who had been on his toes, working hard and always looking to get involved from the very first whistle – collected the ball on the left, and sold Kalla a dummy to fire a shot off at goal from just outside the box. The left-footed thunderbolt had Tschauner well beaten, but unfortunately for the Brazilian, the strike clattered off the joint. This now loose ball allowed Pauli to break, and two passes later, Ebbers looked favourite to latch onto a pass heading towards the D. However, Gunesch stuck with him, and showed good strength, agility and composure to clear the danger.
Two minutes later, there was more excitement on the away bench as Tschauner dropped a corner-kick, only to recover the ball in the nick of time. Then, about 60 seconds later, Kringe won a corner down the left. The set-piece, unsurprisingly, was cleared, but hung for the isolated Bruns in the D in the sort of way anyone who has ever played football dreams about. However, the effort was almost a microcosm of the lethargy that suffused Pauli’s first half performance, as the 32-year-old club stalwart sliced the ball high and wide. The referee, no doubt stultified by the first 45 minutes, didn’t dare play any injury time.
The formations that started the second half
St Pauli (4-4-2): Tschauner; Kalla, Mohr, Thorandt, Kringe; Bruns, Daube, Boll, Bartels; Ebbers, Thy
Ingolstadt (4-4-2): Özcan; da Costa, Biliškov, Gunesch, Schäfer; Leitl, Groβ, Matip, Korkmaz; Caiuby, Eigler
No changes were made by either coach for the second half, which the home side started brightly, coming at their guests with pace and purpose. However, the only chance they had to show from this five-minute period of promise was when Thy zoomed inside off the right flank to fire a left-footed shot into Özcan’s arms. Desperate for some spark, creativity and unpredictability, Schubert replaced Bruns with promising on-loan winger Akaki Gogia in the 51st minute. However, disaster struck for the hosts four minutes later, when Ingolstadt scored with their first real attack of the half! A clever pass from Leitl located Caiuby darting towards the byline in the right-hand side of the box. The Brazilian had time to choose his next move, and chose perfectly – firing across the six-yard box for the near-post-darting Eigler to turn in!
Yet, almost from kick-off, St Pauli made it 1-1! Schäfer gave away a free-kick on Pauli’s right, the free-kick which followed was swung in by Daube, and just off the right-joint of the six-yard box to head in was Mohr on his home debut! A minute or two after the goal, Oral made a double change, replacing Korkmaz and Groβ with Christoph Knasmüllner and José-Alex Ikeng. Ikeng slotted in in centre-midfield, meaning his was a like-for-like change akin to the Bruns/Gogia switch Schubert made. However, Knasmüllner’s arrival facilitated a formational emendation, with the 20-year-old Austrian – once of Bayern Munich and Inter – slotting in behind Eigler in a 4-4-1-1, with Caiuby now taking up a permanent position on the left flank (something the 24-year-old ex-Corinthians and São Paulo attacker is not unaccustomed to).
Schubert had no intention of altering formation, though, and in his next change (Mahir Sağlık on, Thy off), he emphasised this by replacing one striker for another. As we neared the 80th minute, St Pauli looked the more likely team to score, with nerves beginning to show on occasion in the Ingolstadt defence, and Knasmüllner and Eigler doing little apart from collecting silly bookings. The closest we had actually come to a goal since the equalizer, though, was Ebbers sending a shot a few inches over the bar in the 73rd minute (an effort mainly notable for the power the striker got into the strike despite minimal backlift). By and large, we were back to the Pauli of the first half, with all the good work at getting in behind the white-shirted defenders ruined by a poor final ball (Gogia was particularly bad on this front).
In the 81st minute, Schubert made his final substitution, bringing on Daniel Ginczek for Ebbers. After about 40 seconds on the pitch, the on-loan Dortmund striker had arguably the best chance of the match, after making space for himself just off the six-yard box by capitalising on some dithering and blundering by da Costa and Ikeng. However, the 21-year-old was leaning back for the shot that followed, meaning his left-footed half-volley sailed over the bar, much to the exposed Özcan’s relief. A minute from time, Ginczek had a miss that was just as bad; the youngster again leaning back as he blasted over the bar. His strike partner, Sağlık, went closer a few minutes prior to that, while Knasmüllner and Eigler – before the latter was replaced late on by Manuel Schäffler – blew a two-man closing-stages counter-attack for Ingolstadt by being too casual and lax in terms of execution.
The game finished all-square, which, given that neither side made a good enough case for winning, was probably a fair result. It’s DFB-Pokal football next weekend, with St Pauli travelling to Offenburg and Ingolstadt going to Aalen (both lower-league sides).
The formations that finished the match
St Pauli (4-4-2): Tschauner; Kalla, Mohr, Thorandt, Kringe; Gogia, Daube, Boll, Bartels; Ginczek, Sağlık
Ingolstadt (4-4-1-1): Özcan; da Costa, Biliškov, Gunesch, Schäfer; Leitl, Ikeng, Matip, Caiuby; Knasmüllner; Schäffler