Munich - In the 2011/12 season, FC Augsburg had nine points going into the winter break; a year later it was 15; and in the current campaign they are sitting pretty on 24 points, the latest of which came in Friday's 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.
No rest needed
Augsburg might have taken all three points had Arkadiusz Milik not missed a "1000 per cent chance", in the words of his coach Markus Weinzierl, but the hard-earned draw in the Commerzbank Arena was the cherry on top of what has been a fantastic Hinrunde for the club, and one that they hope will lay the foundations for another successful season.
"We've got a 1-1 draw so we can be happy with that," added Weinzierl, not wanting to dwell on that 85th-minute opportunity which could have lifted his club above Hertha Berlin into seventh place. In fact, with such a good run of form - Augsburg are unbeaten in five - interrupting the schedule now is the last thing Weinzierl wanted. "We don't need a winter break," said the 38-year-old. "We're in great shape."
They can "sit back and relax" a little, though, safe in the knowledge they have already laid most of the groundwork for a third straight survival with half of the campaign still to come. Those words came from the mouth of goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, who can certainly put his feet up and enjoy the festive period after some outstanding individual displays that have raised his profile no end, as well as his hopes of playing at the FIFA World Cup next summer.
"Marwin is developing really well and he's a goalkeeper who gets involved well and oozes calm," said Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, whose current number one Diego Benaglio also plies his trade in the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg. "I have not yet decided who will come [to Brazil] as third goalkeeper, but Hitz is certainly a candidate."
Hitz's brave stop to deny Joselu on Friday night will certainly not have done his chances any harm, and neither will the fact that he looks to have made the goalkeeping position at the club his own, having started the last six games.
Frantic February for Frankfurt
For the Eagles, however, there were altogether different emotions at the final whistle of Friday's encounter. After slogging their way through a mammoth schedule, playing more games than any of their Bundesliga rivals since August, a break was certainly what the doctor, and Jan Rosenthal ordered. "We need this winter break desperately," said the forward, whose goal earned the Eagles a point. It will be only a brief respite, however, before the hard work starts again in earnest in February. "It's going to be a doddle," joked coach Armin Veh of his side's New Year schedule. "We've got seven games: two against FC Porto, two against Dortmund and one against Bayern - there's surely something in those for us."
So many games is the price to pay for being successful, but despite Veh's irony, he would not want it any other way. Frankfurt are one of four Bundesliga sides together with Bayern, Dortmund and Bayer 04 Leverkusen still to be in three competitions going into 2014. That is certainly something to be proud about during the winter break.