Every season the Bundesliga takes a break in the middle of winter – rather obviously called the winter break – where the league shuts up shop for several weeks and fans long for the return of their weekly Bundesliga fix.
There are, however, good reasons for what the Germans call Die Winterpause. It allows players and staff a chance to recharge their batteries before getting back to the daily grind of winning games.
Perhaps in a more practical sense, though, it also comes down to the simple fact of the weather. With average January temperatures below freezing across Germany, it makes sense to take a breather when snowballs are easier to kick than footballs, and to stage games might require ice skates rather than studs, not just for the players — undersoil heating in Germany's stadia usually helps them out with that — but for fans hoping to see their heroes in action.
When is the winter break?
The break traditionally comes at the midpoint of the season once 17 rounds of games have been played. This provides an easy demarcation between what’s known as the Hinrunde and the Rückrunde – better explained in English as the first and second half of the season.
The Bundesliga has at times in the past taken up to six weeks off and not returned until February. More recently, it’s been about four weeks - sometimes less when the league needs to start late or finish early because of an international tournament in the summer. In 2022/23, there's a hiatus of approximately two months because of the winter World Cup.
Essentially, the Bundesliga plays as close up to Christmas as possible before putting its feet up for a number of weeks.
Watch: It's snow joke! Cologne and Freiburg scored seven in a snowstorm in 2017/18
What do the teams do?
Usually, Winterpause rhymes with 'sun, sand and sweat' in post-Christmas training camps dotted around southern Europe, beginning in early January.
Borussia Dortmund, for example, tend to head to Marbella for their winter camp, while Bayern Munich have spent recent Januarys in Qatar. Many teams, though, opt to brave the German winter and avoid the hassle of travelling by simply training at home. Club facilities now are so advanced that it takes the heaviest snowfall to prevent them operating as normal.
What's it like in other countries?
The Bundesliga stars are not alone in getting the chance to put their feet up for a few days over the festive period.
France, Spain and Italy all have brief sojourns at various times, normally lasting a couple of weeks as those leagues have more teams and therefore more matchdays to squeeze in. Leagues in eastern Europe have much longer winter breaks, sometimes up to three months.
At the other end of the scale, the English Premier League has never had a winter break. However, they recently introduced a one-week mid-season hiatus in February.
So, when is the 2022/23 Bundesliga back?
The Bundesliga resumes on the weekend beginning 20 January 2023, when leaders Bayern go to third-placed RB Leipzig. Six games are scheduled for Saturday 21 January, with a further two on Sunday 22 January completing Matchday 16.
Games between Leipzig and Bayern tend to be quite the spectacle. It's not all that long ago record champions Bayern won an eight-goal Supercup against the DFB Cup holders, who can close the gap on the league leaders to three points with a spot of revenge at the Red Bull Arena.
Saturday's fixtures hold significance at both ends of the table, with Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt looking to stake their claim on fourth when they host Hoffenheim and Schalke respectively. On the fringes of the European race, Wolfsburg face a Freiburg side looking to double down on their surprise title challenge in the second half of the season. Elsewhere, Bochum vs. Hertha Berlin and VfB Stuttgart vs. Mainz could have long-term ramifications in the context of the relegation battle.
Cologne vs. Werder Bremen is Saturday's final game, prior to Dortmund vs. Augsburg at the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday afternoon. Borussia Mönchengladbach and Rhine rivals Bayer Leverkusen round out the long-awaited return to action.
Watch: RB Leipzig 3-5 Bayern Munich - 2022 Supercup highlights!
Which players should you look out for?
The Bundesliga habitually boasts a pool of talent that is among the very best in the world. Bayern resume their push for a record-extending 11th straight Bundesliga title without injured pair Manuel Neuer and Sadio Mane, but safe in the hands of Jamal Musiala and Co. Like Mane, Christopher Nkunku will miss the restart after injury denied the Leipzig talisman a place at the World Cup. One Leipzig man that did make it to the finals, though, is Josko Gvardiol, who won a whole new army of admirers during Croatia's run to last four.
Dortmund and England midfielder Jude Bellingham is another to have bolstered his already sky-high reputation with a string of fine performances on the international stage. Known for nurturing top-class young talent, BVB can also count on teenaged striker Youssoufa Moukoko and fit-again USA international Gio Reyna. Union forward Jordan and Gladbach defender Joe Scally are two more American stars to look out for. Also keep an eye on the electric French duo of Randal Kolo Muani (Frankfurt) and Moussa Diaby (Leverkusen), as well as Vincenzo Grifo (Freiburg) and Niclas Füllkrug (Werder), who are enjoying fairy-tale seasons with their respective clubs.
How can you watch the Bundesliga?
Viewers around the world will be eager for the Bundesliga to return to their television screens this month. Wherever you are, there are plenty of ways to tune in to the action.
ESPN+ broadcast games in the USA, while Sky Sports have the rights in the United Kingdom. For a full list of TV and digital broadcasters in your region, click here.
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