Bayern Munich may have won the Bundesliga for seven seasons in a row, but the giants of German football will not be top of the table at Christmas with just one game left before the winter break.
Either RB Leipzig or Borussia Mönchengladbach will finish the first half of the season in top spot, with a win for the Red Bulls this weekend ensuring first position thanks to their massive goal difference.
With no more games until January 17, rotation is unlikely for most teams as they look to pick up as many points as possible at the end of the Hinrunde.
Match of the Weekend – Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Mönchengladbach
Gladbach are the success story of the season, and could be top at the winter break if they can get a better result than Leipzig this weekend. Hertha have been much improved following the appointment of Jurgen Klinsmann, meaning this weekend’s clash should be a very open tie.
Lars Stindl is back in consideration for a spot in the Gladbach starting XI, especially after scoring one and assisting another against Paderborn on Wednesday. Hertha head into the winter break looking to strengthen their squad and give Klinsmann more ammunition, and have been linked with Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, who would likely become their record signing should he move to Berlin.
Rest of the Weekend
Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund kicks off week 17’s action on Friday evening. Jadon Sancho became the youngest player to score 22 Bundesliga goals in midweek, with the 19-year-old beating the previous record by just two days. Although he had discipline problems earlier in the season, those seem to be behind him and he remains a crucial part of Lucien Favre’s XI.
Bayern Munich have scored 28 goals in all competitions since Hansi Flick took temporary charge and no other team in Europe’s top-five leagues has as many goals in that period. Wolfsburg boss Oliver Glasner has admitted his defence will need to be at their best to stop Bayern, who saw Joshua Zirkzee become the second-youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history on Wednesday.
RB Leipzig have a very winnable game to finish their Hinrunde and should take all three points against Augsburg to go into the winter break in first. Philipp Max will be the dangerman for Augsburg and has been involved in nine of their last 15 goals (six goals, three assists). At the other end, Timo Werner sits just one goal behind Robert Lewandowski as the second-highest scorer in Europe this season.
Bundesliga Player to Watch – Levin Öztunali – Mainz – £0.48
That should mean some goals for the zero-fivers, who have seen midfielder Levin Öztunali impress since Achim Beierlorzer was appointed head coach. The 23-year-old has played every minute of their last five Bundesliga games, scoring twice in that period.