bundesliga.com summarises the five most salient points from the first dramatic weekend of Bundesliga action in 2014...
Having spent five months on the sidelines and not featured in a single of Schalke's winter friendlies, few would have expected to see return to the Royal Blues' starting line-up for their first competitive match of 2014. Yet the 2011/12 Bundesliga top scorer did so, and netted Schalke's first in the 3-0 triumph away to Hamburger SV, giving the Royal Blue faithful hope that the season run-in can be rather more fruitful than the first half of the campaign.
The unpredictable nature of the Bundesliga once again kept fans on their toes on Matchday 18, as none of the top six sides, other than FC Bayern, picked up maximum points. Jürgen Klopp's (pictured) Borussia Dortmund fared best with their 2-2 draw against FC Augsburg, while Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfL Wolfsburg and Hertha Berlin all lost to sides in the lower half of the table on a weekend which saw the gap at the top grow even wider.
After Nürnberg won their first game of the season and Hannover clinched their maiden three points away from home, Eintracht Frankfurt joined the club in claiming their first win of 2013/14 at the Commerzbank Arena on Saturday evening. Alex Meier's goal was enough to earn them a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin, simultaneously exacting revenge for a 6-1 loss to the Old Lady on Matchday 1. "It was a dirty win, but necessary in the relegation battle we're in," said coach Armin Veh after depositing three points in the bank.
After losing all eight of their away games in the first half of the season, Hannover 96 registered their first win on their travels on the competitive debut of their new coach. Tayfun Korkut, who replaced Mirko Slomka during the winter break, was responsible for the storm that shook Wolfsburg's resistance, and while he made a perfect start to life in charge of the Lower Saxony club, he made it clear that more must follow. "This means nothing," said the 39-year-old.