REUTERS - The similarities between Ingolstadt and Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig, are striking but the current fates of the cash-rich clubs could hardly be more different as they prepare to face each other on Saturday.
Promoted Leipzig have taken the league by storm, racing to the top with a 13-game run, the last eight of which have been won.
Owner Red Bull, the energy drink maker, has pumped millions into the amateur club it bought in 2009, overseeing the team’s rise through the professional ranks into Germany’s top flight.
Leipzig’s rapid ascent angered scores of Bundesliga clubs and fans who claim the team is no more than a mere promotional tool for the Red Bull product, with no history or sporting tradition.
Fans have vented their anger in every game, which have been marked by anti-Red Bull banners and chants, while the team bus has also been attacked with paint.
Ingolstadt’s 2015 promotion to the Bundesliga under then coach Ralph Hasenhuettl was also unwelcome for some because local car maker and investor Audi had been equally generous in its support of the team.
The Austrian coach left this summer to take over at Leipzig, who were also promoted, overseeing their sensational run as his former team languish in last place.
Hasenhuettl accepts he may get a hostile reception when his team travel to Ingolstadt.
“I am sure there will be a few people who still do not understand why I left Ingolstadt,” he said. “But if someone is developing faster than the club then you sit down and find a solution.”
“That is the case both for players and coaches. I had my own goals that I wanted to follow and the decision, as you can see, was not that wrong.”
His team’s attractive attacking game has seen them score 29 goals, as many as champions Bayern Munich, while their defensive record is the second best in the league.
By contrast Ingolstadt have the worst attack in the Bundesliga with just 10 goals in 13 matches.
But Ingolstadt coach Maik Walpurgis believes his goal-shy team could still conjure a surprise result on Saturday.
“Even if we are the underdogs it can happen. But for it to happen everything must work perfectly on Saturday,” said Bundesliga newcomer Walpurgis, who took over a month ago.
Bayern, in second place on 30 points, three behind Leipzig, host struggling VfL Wolfsburg while fellow title rivals Borussia Dortmund, in sixth place on 24, travel to Cologne.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann