Braunschweig - After an absence of 28 years, returning to the top tier of German football was always going to take some getting used to, and so it has proved for Eintracht Braunschweig.

Promotion from the Third Division in 2010/11 was followed by an eighth-placed finish in 2011/12, before their surprise and belated Bundesliga homecoming under Torsten Lieberknecht last season. The club's recent trend reveals a constant level of success, but maintaining that progress in the cut-throat world of the Bundesliga is testing the Lions to their limits.

With 11 points to show for their first 17 Bundesliga outings of the 2013/14 campaign, Braunschweig go into the winter break in the unfavourable position of propping up the rest of the Bundesliga. The good news is that, after Matchday 17's 1-0 win over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, they are only three points from the relegation play-off spot and four from safety.

The form of Daniel Davari in goal has been one of the few positives for Lieberknecht. The Iranian kept clean sheets against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg and in Hanover, but all too often the defence in front of him has been too easily breached, conceding 32 goals in its first 17 games.

When last season’s top scorer Domi Kumbela scores, Braunschweig win. His goals against Wolfsburg on Matchday 8 and Leverkusen on Matchday 11 have been particular highlights for the team's famously passionate fans.

"I really don't know what I can say," explained Braunschweig No10 Mirko Boland after his side's first win of the season in the Lower Saxony derby at Wolfsburg. "It's just crazy! It's a great load off the mind for the entire city, the fans and the team. I was on my last legs for the final ten minutes, but the coach just yelled I should keep running. I took his advice," he laughed.

The returning Karim Bellarabi has impressed throughout the first half of the campaign, scoring twice and chipping in with four assists. Assuming he stays fit, the Lions have every chance of extending their stay in Germany's top flight.