A remarkable Bundesliga year has drawn to a close and it only remains for GOAL! to round up some of the stand-out stories of the 2013/14 campaign so far...
Last weekend's triumph in the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco rounded out a year which was unique even in the highly distinguished annals of FC Bayern München. The men from the Bavarian capital swept all before them at home and abroad in 2013, with the records falling left, right and centre on the domestic front as they stormed to their 22nd Bundesliga title. The highest points total, the best goal difference and the fewest goals conceded were three of the most notable, but there has most certainly been no resting on laurels since Pep Guardiola took the helm, with Bayern recently breaking Hamburg's long-standing unbeaten record – they are now at 41 games and counting – and putting together the best opening season-half ever seen in Germany's national top flight. So what does 2014 have in store for them, and their rivals?
Top Game Rewind
The first season meeting of Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München in the Bundesliga would have been a major event whatever the circumstances, given that these are the two sides who went head-to-head in the UEFA Champions League at Wembley last May. As it transpired, the Matchday 13 encounter at the Signal Iduna Park could rightfully be tagged the game of 2013/14 on statistical grounds as well, with hosts Dortmund going into it second in the table and knowing victory would take them back to within a point of league leaders Bayern. BVB's defensive injury woes were one subplot in the build-up, but undoubtedly overshadowing all else was the prospect of Mario Götze's first return in the employ of the Bavarian record champs to the club where he earned his spurs as one of the hottest properties in the world game. It was a far from easy situation for German football's ultimate wunderkind – but it was one he would come through with flying colours.
Inside the Numbers
2013/14 is shaping up to be another campaign of superlatives, as a cursory glance at some of the first season-half statistics only serves to underscore. For starters, the number of Bundesliga goals going into the winter break is at a 28-year high, averaging out at 3.2 per game and raising the distinct possibility of the ball hitting the back of the net more than 1,000 times in the top flight by the end of Matchday 34. And while the out-and-out goalgetters continue to strut their stuff to great effect, attacking midfield stars like FC Bayern's Ballon d'Or contender Franck Ribery and Marco Reus of Dortmund have been assiduously chipping in as well. GOAL! takes a closer look at the ongoing scoring frenzy.
Goal of the Season
As touched on above, there has certainly been no shortage of goals so far in the Bundesliga this season and it need hardly be added that quantity has been duly accompanied by quality. Alongside sublime strikes from familiar names such as Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski and FC Bayern wide men Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Hamburg's Tolgay Arslan, Hoffenheim's Kevin Volland and Hannover's Hiroki Sakai have also made the cut for our Goal of the Season(-half) – as have a pair of Brazilian brothers respectively earning their corn in Mönchengladbach and Berlin.