bundesliga.com previews three games that could provide their prospective winners with an invaluable boost going into the festive break...
Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Eintracht Frankfurt
Anybody keen on seeing goals this weekend should look no further than the BayArena, where Bayer 04 Leverkusen, one of the most attack-minded sides in the division, face a club whose games have produced a staggering 66 goals in total so far this season at an average of over four per match.
'The Entertainers' could be the name given to Eintracht these days, even if their coach Thomas Schaaf did not necessarily envisage conceding so many when he promised a positive brand of football. "We've put in some sensational performances, we like putting on a show and it's always worth it to come and watch us play," he added. "But it [conceding goals] does get a bit too much."
Alex, meet Bernd
This week's match-up is especially enticing since it pits against one another the league's top scorer Alexander Meier and one of the division's best goalkeepers in .
"We're very solid at the back, in particular Bernd who is in fantastic shape," said Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt. "Whenever the ball finds a way through, he's always there to diffuse things like against Hoffenheim." Somewhere between the rock of Meier and the hard place of Leno, Saturday's eagerly anticipated spectacle will be decided.
FC Augsburg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
The spotlight falls on at the SGL Arena this Saturday when he visits former club FC Augsburg with new club Borussia Mönchengladbach. The 24-year-old has a lot to thank the Fuggerstädter for, since it was they who plucked him from the third division almost two years ago, from where he has since become a fully-fledged Germany international.
"I'm really looking forward to this game and to being back in the stadium," Hahn told newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine. "I have the utmost respect for this club and how they have established themselves in the Bundesliga. There could not have been a better team for my first steps in the Bundesliga."
A middle ground?
Augsburg, for their part, have enjoyed a successful first half of the season, with eight victories already, one more than they managed at this corresponding stage last season and a club record position of third in the table as recently as Matchday 14.
That number must, however, be qualified by their eight defeats and 20 goals conceded, equal to the number they have scored, which suggests an inability to take points from matches in which they are not at their best. The Bavarians have not yet lost three in a row this term, and avoiding that record, or making it victory no. nine will be the aim on Hahn's return this Saturday.
VfB Stuttgart - SC Paderborn
The turn of the year is a time for reflection, and when SC Paderborn look back on the last 12 months, they will find it hard to keep the smiles from forming on their faces no matter what happens on their final appointment of the year at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena.
This was the year in which the East Westphalian side clinched their ticket to the big time for the very first time in their history. Four wins and six draws from their 16 games is by no means a poor return, and they even topped the table going into Matchday 5's loss at Bayern. And who could forget Moritz Stoppelkamp's record-breaking goal from 83 metres against Hannover 96?
Stevens’ soft spot
Coach Andre Breitenreiter summed things nicely up prior to leaving for Stuttgart when he drew his own conclusions about the year. "We've already exceeded all our expectations," he said. "My team have been magnificent." Win, lose or draw at Stuttgart, that assessment will not change.
Over the past five months, Paderborn have earned the recognition few would have granted them in August. "They play good football," said Stuttgart coach Huub Stevens. "Everybody has a soft spot for them; it's nice and it's good for smaller clubs." That charity won't surely won't extend to anything more than a warm winter welcome, however, with VfB, a wounded giant, lying just a point above the relegation play-off place.
Relive one of the most dramatic few minutes of the Bundesliga season - it happened in midweek when Alexander Meier rescued Frankfurt a point from the jaws of defeat. Here's the video, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: