Borussia Dortmund suffered another demoralising defeat at the hands of SV Werder Bremen, while FC Schalke 04 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen were held to draws. VfL Wolfsburg continued their excellent campaign with victory in Saturday's evening game, and there were goals galore on Sunday as TSG 1899 Hoffenheim beat Hertha Berlin and Hannover 96 drew with SC Freiburg.
bundesliga.com brings you all the news and reaction to this weekend's games...
Matchday 17 results
Hertha Berlin 0-5 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
SC Freiburg 2-2 Hannover 96
FC Schalke 04 0-0 Hamburger SV
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
FC Augsburg 2-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
SV Werder Bremen 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
VfB Stuttgart 0-0 SC Paderborn 07
VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 1. FC Köln
1. FSV Mainz 05 1-2 FC Bayern München
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Monday 22 December
Borussia Dortmund have confirmed that South Korean striker will return to former employers FC Augsburg. The 23-year-old striker spent less than six months at BVB after joining the club in July, albeit without featuring once for the first team in competitive action. By contrast, he netted five times in 17 outings during a six-month loan spell with Augsburg during the second half of the 2012/13 campaign and once in 12 league appearances the following season.
After starring for club and country in 2014, FC Schalke 04 captain and World Cup-winning defender is looking forward to some well-earned rest and relaxation this winter: "I'm more than happy that the year is over and that I'm going into the festive period healthy […] We now need to make sure we prepare well in Qatar and go into the second half of the season on top of our game".
is hopeful Borussia Dortmund can turn their season around in the new year: "If we get everyone fit again during the winter break and are able to put out our strongest line-up at the end of January, then we'll show a different side to ourselves". BVB's first Bundesliga fixture of 2015, by the way, is away to Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Thomas Kraft has signed a new 2 year contract extension pic.twitter.com/LftjyvlUxY— Hertha English (@HerthaBSC_EN) December 22, 2014
There was also good news for Mönchengladbach on Monday, however, the Foals revealing they have handed veteran Austrian defender a one-year contract extension. The 34-year-old former VfB Stuttgart player, who joined the club from FC Spartak Moscow in 2011, will now remain at the Borussia-Park until the end of next season. "Staying here was a no-brainer," Stranzl commented.
With two goals in his last four Bundesliga appearances, VfL Wolfsburg striker looks to have laid down a timely marker for 2015. "I'm really enjoying it because it's not always been easy for me here," the Dutchman explained after netting the equaliser in the Wolves' 2-1 win over 1. FC Köln. "It's not 15 goals, but it's a start."
Charity Match zwischen Roger Federer und Stan Wawrinka. Toller Abend!:-) Match for Africa! pic.twitter.com/ZtLX0FWiYj— Yann Sommer (@YannSommer1) December 22, 2014
Sixth-placed FC Augsburg go into the winter break on the back of their most successful first-season half since gaining promotion to the Bundesliga in 2011. "Those 17 games were the best in the club's history," said veteran goalkeeper (l.) of the recently ended Hinrunde. "There's just so much character in this team."
Dortmund's struggles during the first half of the campaign made the back pages both in Germany as well as internationally. "The 2-1 defeat to Bremen was probably their worst performance so far this season," writes Westdeutsche Zeitung of the five-time Bundesliga champions, while England's The Guardian comments: “[Head coach] Jürgen Klopp is facing a long winter break after Dortmund were beaten for tenth time.”
“Who would have thought [after last summer's World Cup],” asks sports magazine Kicker: “For the first time in Bundesliga history have Bayern won 45 points after 17 matchdays, their 11-point gap to second-placed Wolfsburg also marking a new record.” Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung reports: “Bayern are dominant like never before because of [coach Pep] Guardiola and [sporting director Matthias] Sammer's good decision-making."
Sunday 21 December
What a Sunday of Matchday 17 it turned out to be for those who like their festive period with an extra helping of goals. Hoffenheim romped to a 5-0 win over listless Hertha in the capital, while SC Freiburg (pictured) threw away a two-goal lead against Hannover 96 in a 2-2 draw. That final game of the year meant that the Black Forest club end 2014 bottom of the Bundesliga table, sparing Dortmund's blushes, who begin 2015 a place above them.
Schalke defender is looking forward to a bit of downtime after an injury-plagued Hinrunde. "After such a stressful year it’s time for a bit of a break," the Brazilian explained following Saturday's goalless draw with Hamburger SV. "I'm off to to Brazil for a bit of sun, sand and the chance to chill in the warm weather. After the break, I'll be back to help the lads in the Rückrunde.
Don't forget you can follow today's final game of 2014 live on Bundesliga radio! We'll be there to bring you all the latest from in-form Hannover's clash away to Freiburg, our coverage starting half an hour before kick-off at 16:00 GMT/17:00 CET.
Of course you can also stay up to date with all today's Bundesliga action via your local television broadcaster, as well as bundesliga.com'slive Twitter channel.
Hannover 96 defender will miss the Reds' winter training camp as well as the Bundesliga restart, after being called up to represent Senegal at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (17 January-8 February). The 24-year-old only made his second appearance of the season on Tuesday, opening the scoring in a 2-0 win over Augsburg.
Dortmund head coach Jürgen Klopp is already plotting his side's revival following yesterday's 2-1 defeat in Bremen. "We've got almost three weeks' preparation time that we'll be making full use of," he affirmed. "All the criticism levelled at us is completely justified […] It's our own fault we're stood here like compete idiots."
Hold back the tears, you all knew the time would come: the final day of Bundesliga fixtures this calendar year before the traditional winter break. Looking to go out with a bang, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim get the afternoon's action under way at Hertha Berlin, before SC Freiburg face Hannover 96 looking for the result that could see BVB end 2014 rock-bottom of the standings.
Following another disappointing outing on the road in the 2-1 loss at Werder Bremen, BVB team captain Mats Hummels pulled no punches bout how poor the peak played. "It's quite unbelievable how rubbish we've been away from home", said the Germany international, after a result that left Borussia in one of the automatic relegation places over winter for the first time in their Bundesliga history. Click here for the rest of the post-match reaction.
They were made to work hard but VfL Wolfsburg ended 2014 on a winning note after grinding out a 2-1 win against 1. FC Köln. Bas Dost and Naldo got the goals for the home side, whose 34 points this season make the current Hinrunde their most successful ever in the Bundesliga, even more so than 2008/09, when they won the title. Here's our match report from the Volkswagen Arena.
Elsewhere, there were some fascinating encounters, as Hamburg held Schalke in the Veltins Arena, Leverkusen fought back for a point on home turf against Eintracht Frankfurt (for whom Alex Meier scored again), and the FC Augsburg success story continued with another come-from-behind win, this time against Borussia Mönchengladbach. SC Paderborn 07, meanwhile, ended their fantastic Hinrunde with a draw in Stuttgart.
Well, time to get your breath back after a rip-roaring final Saturday afternoon in 2014 of Bundesliga action. the big news has to be that Borussia Dortmund suffered a scarcely-believable tenth defeat of the season, 2-1 at the hands of Werder Bremen. Davie Selke and Fin Bartels (pictured, r.) gave the hosts a two-goal lead, and Mats Hummels' late consolation wasn't enough for Jürgen Klopp's men, who risk spending the winter break bottom of the league, if Freiburg beat Hannover tomorrow.
The last encounter of the calendar year sees struggling Freiburg take on Hannover at the Schwarzwald-Stadion. The Black Forest club, who could slip to bottom of the league if other results go against them on Saturday, are in dire need of three points after failing to win any of their last five league matches. Hannover, on the other hand, are aiming to close the gap on the European places.
Hoffenheim host Hertha on Sunday afternoon in 2014's penultimate Bundesliga match. The Sinsheim club go into the game just a point off sixth-placed Augsburg in the table, while Berlin are still a little too close to the bottom three for comfort. The capital club have, however, picked up four points from their last two in the league, including a 1-0 win over Dortmund.
Live on TV, radio and via Twitter
There are numerous ways to follow today's Bundesliga action. Click here to find your local television broadcaster, follow this link to get to Bundesliga radio, broadcasting Werder Bremen's clash with Borussia Dortmund today. Alternatively, you can follow every kick of the day on bundesliga.com'slive Twitter channel, bringing you updates from every game.
There is plenty of action to come over the remainder of this last weekend of Bundesliga action with Wolfsburg looking to cut Bayern's lead back down to 11 points this evening. Before that, there are games of vital importance at the other end of the table between Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund and with Hamburg's trip to Schalke. A sell-out crowd is expected to see Stuttgart host Paderborn too on another action-packed Saturday.
Friday 19 December
Before you tuck yourself in, don't forget to read what Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger had to say about Bayern's win over Mainz here. Once you've done that, don't forget to join us first thing tomorrow for all the build-up to the final Bundesliga Saturday of 2014. There's a crucial battle at the bottom between Bremen and Dortmund, while with Schalke hosting Hamburg and Leverkusen welcoming Eintracht Frankfurt, amongst others, goals and entertainment are a guarantee.
FC Bayern München left it until the 90th minute of their final game of 2014 to pick up a 2-1 victory over a courageous 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the Coface Arena. Arjen Robben's 90th-minute winner ensured the three points headed back to Munich with the champions, their 14th victory of the season, but Elkin Soto's first-half goal and a resilient defensive display from Kasper Hjulmand's Mainz certainly exposed some cracks in the relentless red machine.
"Ganar no lo es todo, es lo único" // "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" pic.twitter.com/76jTAgkMXM— Junior Díaz (@JuniorDiazCR) December 19, 2014
In Stuttgart angekommen hoffen auf ein erfolgreiches Spiel morgen.lg pic.twitter.com/5aKLGhw6bv— mahir.saglik (@MahirSaglik) December 19, 2014
was thrown straight into the HSV starting eleven against Hannover on Matchday 3 following his loan move from Bayern, but since the departure of Mirko Slomka as coach, the USA international has made minimal impact for the Red Shorts. That may change this weekend, however. With Rafael van der Vaart suspended and Pierre-Michel Lasogga injured, the 19-year-old may be in line to feature against Schalke and will hope to add to HSV's total of just nine goals in 16 games.
A photo posted by Julian Wesley Green (@jgreen_37) on Dec 12, 2014 at 7:15am PST
Sixth place with 24 points is a great return for FC Augsburg at this stage of the season but is there a risk their position in the table is papering over some of the cracks present in the team? Eight wins is an impressive number, but their eight defeats is only one fewer than Dortmund, whose nine is the most so far, while Augsburg have also scored 20 and conceded 20. Markus Weinzierl's men face Gladbach at home this weekend, but which way will their Hinrunde pendulum swing?
Robben: The only BL player (min. 5 games) to have ever scored more goals than have been let in in his games (65-64). pic.twitter.com/oZJuXvRn4m— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) December 19, 2014
Should Bayern slip up at the Coface Arena on Friday, Wolfsburg will be ready to capitalise against Köln on Saturday evening. The Wolves could be 14 points behind the league leaders by the time they take to the field against the Billy Goats, but with Pep Guardiola's charges set to visit the Volkswagen Arena on Matchday 18, Wolfsburg have a chance to narrow that sizeable gap on the Bavarians.
Eins, zwei, drei...
FC Bayern string puller Xabi Alonso has given his first interview in German. Speaking to FCB.tv, the 33-year-old revealed he's been having three German lessons a week for the past two months, but admitted it's a difficult language to master.
"It's difficult, but I have to learn," said the former Spain international, who joined the Bavarians from Real Madrid CF in the summer. "The Bundesliga is faster than the Primera Division and the players are stronger. I need time [to adjust], but I'm happy with how things have gone so far.
Click on the video below to see the full interview (German only, no subtitles).
Schalke 04 and HSV need three points for very different reasons on Matchday 17. Victory for the Royal Blues could see Roberto Di Matteo's troops climb into the UEFA Champions League places, while a draw or defeat for Hamburg could plunge them into the bottom three. Head over here for our match preview...
With the 2014/15 winter break drawing ever closer, bundesliga.com has has compiled an overview of the 18 clubs' plans for the five-week hiatus in Germany's top flight. FC Bayern and Schalke 04 are returning to Qatar, Borussia Dortmund are off to Spain and VfL Wolfsburg are heading to South Africa!
1. FC Köln duo Timo Horn (pictured) and Matthias Lehmann have committed their futures to the Billy Goats. Goalkeeper Horn has signed a new long-term deal with the club which ties him to the RheinEnergieStadion until 2019, while Lehmann put pen to paper on a one-year extension on his contract, which was set to expire this summer. Köln striker Anthony Ujah has already taken to Twitter to congratulate Horn.
Several Bundesliga stars are celebrating their birthdays today, including Hannover 96's Leonardo Bittencourt (21), FC Augsburg defender Dominik Reinhardt (30) and Borussia Dortmund. Yes, die Schwarz-Gelben, who were founded on 19 December 1909, celebrate their 105th anniversary today. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag from everyone here at bundesliga.com!
A threat at both ends
FC Bayern's Jerome Boateng is a quality defender, with his first line of work stopping players from scoring. But he's popped up with a goal himself on occasion too. Take a look at all of the 26-year-old's Bundesliga goals by clicking on the video below...
bundesliga.com has rounded-up all the most pertinent pre-match facts and figures and compiled them in a handy graphic for your viewing pleasure. Can Hoffenheim break their Matchday 17 duck? Will Hertha finally get three points on a Sunday? Will Werder add to their 30 home victories over BVB? We're about to find out...
Things all look fairly rosy for FC Bayern at the league's summit, but Pep Guardiola goes into Friday’s clash with Mainz with several first-team players out injured. Medhi Benatia has been ruled out with a groin problem, while Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski have both been ruled out after picking up knocks against SC Freiburg in midweek. Midfielder Sebastian Rode is also sidelined.
Who would have thought eight-time Bundesliga champions Dortmund would go into the final Matchday of 2014 in danger of spending the winter break in the relegation zone? Only a win at Bremen on Saturday will guarantee BVB a place outside the bottom three during the mid-season sabbatical, while defeat could mean the die Schwarz-Gelben spend the festive period at the foot of the standings. The only thing Jürgen Klopp wants for Christmas, one presumes, is three more points.