In the final part of our series, we focus on the teams leading the way at the top of the Bundesliga table...
Pep Guardiola's team remain the team to beat in Germany's top flight. The question is, can anyone actually beat them? Bayern haven't lost in 41 Bundesliga matches - a run stretching back to October 2012 when they suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Red Bull Salzburg recorded a shock 3-0 win over Guardiola's charges in a pre-season friendly, but that will only serve to sharpen the league leaders' focus ahead of the Bundesliga restart.
Where do you start? The plethora of talent at Guardiola's disposal is enough to make any coach envious of the 43-year-old Spaniard. Franck Ribery - though though doubtful for Bayern's first match of 2014 against Borussia Mönchengladbach - is likely to want to prove a point after missing out on the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or, while Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger will both return to full fitness before too long. Bayern may not have added to their squad during this transfer window, but they have already signalled their intentions for next season and beyond with the capture of Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern's seven-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga proves the German record champions can cope with injuries quite comfortably. In fact, a fully fit squad could pose more of a problem for Guardiola - can the former FC Barcelona coach keep all his players happy? Guardiola has already shown he is more than willing to rotate his starting line-up on a regular basis, so Bayern's many stars should all be given ample playing time.
It will take a monumental effort by one of their challengers to snatch the Bundesliga title from Bayern's clutches, and last season's quadruple winners certainly won't surrender the DFB Cup and the UEFA Champions League without a fight. "Our aim is always to retain our trophies," said captain Philipp Lahm. "If you win three competitions like that, you want to defend them."
Did you know that... Bayern lost 5-0 at Gladbach on the final day of the 1973/74 campaign, just one day after beating Club Atletico de Madrid in that season's European Cup final?
Die Werkself couldn't have wished for a much better first half to the campaign: Second only to Bayern in the league, and still going strong in the cup competitions, even successive league defeats before the winter break couldn't dampen the spirits of everyone at the BayArena. Sami Hyypiä's team have also been in fine form during the winter break and even got their hands on some silverware after winning the Wintercup in Düsseldorf.
In Stefan Kießling, Sidney Sam and , Leverkusen boast one of the most dangerous attacks in the division. One of their more recent acquisitions however, 1899 Hoffenheim loanee , has enjoyed the best mid-season break of the lot, scoring six goals in Leverkusen's five friendly matches.
Unfortunately for Hyypiä, Sam has agreed on a move to FC Schalke 04 at the end of the current campaign. The Finnish coach will also be without the services of Australia international winger Robbie Kruse, who sustained knee ligament damage in training, for the rest of the season. Leverkusen don't currently have the biggest squad, and time will tell what effect injuries and suspensions may have on their challenge at the Bundesliga summit.
Despite currently being Bayern's closest challengers, the Bundesliga title isn't Leverkusen's main objective for the 2013/14 season. "We want to qualify for the Champions League again," said sporting director Rudi Völler. If Bayer can start the second half of the campaign in similar fashion to the first, Völler and Co. are likely to get their wish.
Did you know that... Leverkusen's forwards scored more goals during the first half of the season (25) than SC Freiburg managed overall (16)?
They may have been held to consecutive draws at the end of the Hinrunde, but Lucien Favre's team finished the first half of the 2013/14 in great form. Eight wins from nine home matches laid the foundation for the Gladbach's fine campaign so far, which has seen the Foals rise to third in the Bundesliga table. Favre's side have also been highly impressive in their mid-season friendlies, with victories over Hertha Berlin (3-0), FC St. Gallen (2-1), and VfL Bochum (2-0), and a draw against Besiktas JK (1-1).
If Gladbach's front four of Max Kruse, Raffael, Juan Arango and Patrick Herrmann can recapture their form of the first half of the season, the Foals will take some stopping in the Hinrunde. At the other end, meanwhile, Favre will be boosted by the return of centre-back Alvaro Dominguez who is in contention for a starting berth against Bayern following a long-term shoulder injury.
It is difficult to pinpoint flaws in Gladbach's side, but there is room for improvement in the wider areas of the pitch. The Foals made fewer crosses (107) than any other top-flight team during the first half of the campaign, while only Leverkusen and SV Werder Bremen conceded more crosses than Gladbach (248). Only one of die Fohlen's 35 goals resulted from a cross, and they have also yet to score from a corner.
If Gladbach can carry their fine home form into the second half of the 2013/14 season, they will stand an excellent chance of finishing in the top four of the Bundesliga. Lucien Favre's team are serious contenders for a UEFA Champions League berth.
Did you know that... on average, only Bayern enjoyed more possession (66 per cent) than Gladbach (56 per cent) during the first half of the season?