Summary

  • Unbeaten Hoffenheim face Dortmund.
  • Leipzig vs Hertha, Bayern travel to Darmstadt.
  • Desperate times at the bottom.

The season's upon us, it's that time of year, but who will be spreading the yuletide cheer on Bundesliga Matchday 15?

bundesliga.com previews the penultimate round of Hinrunde action...

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Master and apprentice

Two of Germany's most revered young coaches lock tactical wits on Matchday 15 as Julian Nagelsmann's TSG 1899 Hoffenheim take on Thomas Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. Nagelsmann spent a year under Tuchel's wing in the FC Augsburg second team in 2007/08, but it is only in the last 10 months that the meticulous work of the youngest head coach in Bundesliga history has earned global recognition. Indeed, Hoffenheim are one of only two teams in Europe's top five divisions yet to taste defeat in the league this season - the other being La Liga leaders Real Madrid CF - and currently sit fourth in the Bundesliga standings - one point ahead of BVB.

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Watch: Hoffenheim's #BLFantasy stars:

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Second and third respectively, RB Leipzig and Hertha Berlin have also been kicking up a real storm in 2016/17. Leipzig were unbeaten until last weekend's shock defeat to FC Ingolstadt 04, but remain firmly in contention for the nominal Herbstmeistershaft (autumn championship) crown, sitting level as they do on points with FC Bayern München after 14 matches. The Old Lady are hot on their heels, and make the short trip east determined to banish the blues after seeing their 100 per cent home record ended at the hands of SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 14.

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Watch: Emil Forsberg on Leipzig's first Bundesliga defeat:

Bayern baring teeth

Leipzig's unexpected title tilt has got everyone talking, but it has only brought the very best out of Bayern. Carlo Ancelotti's ravenous troupe appear to have gone up a gear in recent weeks, and returned to the summit on goal difference after crushing VfL Wolfsburg to the tune of 5-0 on Matchday 14. With the defending champions gathering visible momentum by the week ahead of their top-of-the-table showdown at home to Leipzig on Matchday 16, it could be an uncomfortable afternoon for upcoming opponents SV Darmstadt 98 - bottom of the table and caught up in a six-match losing tailspin.

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Watch: Highlights of Bayern's 5-0 win over Wolfsburg:

Back with a bang

Thomas Müller was among the Bayern scorers against Wolfsburg, helping himself to his first Bundesliga goal in 999 minutes of top-flight action. The 27-year-old is thriving in a more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation and will be confident of doubling his tally against a Darmstadt side that have kept just one clean sheet all season. Dortmund's Marco Reus is also on a belated up, with four goals in five appearances in all competitions since returning from injury in November - including the last-gasp equaliser against 1. FC Köln on Matchday 14.

Watch: Highlights of Köln's 1-1 draw with Darmstadt:

Relegation dogfight

Köln have the opportunity to remedy their three-match winless run against Werder Bremen - a fixture that, until recently, would have looked very one-sided indeed. Bremen, however, are showing signs of life after picking up seven points from the last nine on offer, and could open up a seven-point gap on the bottom four with victory at home to the Billy Goats. With only two rounds of fixtures left before the Bundesliga's customary winter break, it is very much time for the real Wolfsburg, Hamburger SV, Ingolstadt and Darmstadt to stand up - before it is too late.

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