It’s almost impossible to overstate how central Pascal Groß was to Ingolstadt’s attack. He led the league in key passes yes, but this doesn’t get to the bottom of it really. He also led the league in passes from attacking areas (~final third):
But that’s still not my favorite attacking passing stat for the big man, it’s this list of all passing connections in final third with at least 60 completions:
6 of the top 33 connections involve the man Groß, often forming one of his patented Pascal triangles with the right backs Levels and da Costa and his main man toward goal in the Aussie Leckie. Basically, what I’m saying is the only way Ingolstadt ever applied pressure to the opposing defense was through Pascals. It is interesting to notice how close the RB’s got to Groß to pass him the ball, passes of ~12 yards on average for a team who loved a long-ball. The difference in how Levels in particular passed compared to the rest of the Ingolstadt fullbacks was stark.
In one of the more bizarre and standout stats of the year Tobias Levels actually had one of the highest completion percentages of any fullback in the league and did it while playing on a team that completed 64% of its passes overall. Maybe he’s suddenly Phillip Lahm in the body of the guy manning the counter at your local electronics store?
If he is, he will have plenty of minutes to roll up and down the right with da Costa moving to Leverkusen.
One Big Strength: The frenetic press made Ingolstadt were a tough opponent for everyone in the league with how they defended. No team forced opponents into a lower completion % in their own half than Ingolstadt did. I’ll let Pep say it, he might have more credibility than me:
Tuchel made similar comments about how it’s a headache to play against them. To be promoted and get praise like that from coaches like Tuchel and Guardiola is basically enough said. Though to say something else, I also named Hasenhüttl by coach of the year in Europe at the midpoint and the Bundesliga Coach of the Year after the season. If you have Pep, Tuchel, and a random guy on twitter with a Homer Simpson profile picture praising you, you know you’ve made it.
One Big Weakness: Ralph Hasenhüttl is off to RB Leipzig. He was the man behind the hectic defensive pressure Ingolstadt brought to each and every game and the Groß-centric strategy that scraped enough goals out of what looked to be a talent-poor attack to finish comfortably mid-table. Groß himself said that Hasenhüttl was crucial to getting him to reach his current level: “Ralph Hasenhüttl has let me play immediately and gave me the confidence in a personal conversation. At my age, that’s the most important thing.” (link)
Markus Kauczinski is the new man, in from Karlsruher, and he will face a tall task to keep the team defending like madmen.
Good Season: Someone else besides Groß helps out with the ball and Kauczinski continues to get the team to swarm around and safety is assured.