Cologne - The Bundesliga Preview Show is the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga's weekly TV programme, offering a global audience a unique perspective on Germany's top flight throughout the season. We have in-depth previews of the upcoming league action, exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes reports, the best goals from the latest league encounters and much more besides.
This week we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the season so far after the campaign reached its halfway mark...
So much for Pep Guardiola's gloomy pre-season prediction that the toll taken by the demands of the World Cup would leave FC Bayern München limping through until the winter break. The sizeable contingent of stars who went the full distance in Brazil has for the most part been in tremendous form as the record champions steamrollered their way through the first season-half, winning 14 out of 17 Bundesliga games and drawing the other three.
Mario Götze, Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben sliced their way through opposition defences with near-monotonous regularity at one end while at the other, Manuel Neuer continued to indulge in the odd upfield foray to help offset his own frequent underemployment. Bastian Schweinsteiger eventually re-entered the fray to an incredible reception but there was bad news for Philipp Lahm, after the skipper had made his usual impressive start to the campaign.
From second-top to second-bottom: that has been the grim and scarcely believable trajectory followed by Borussia Dortmund over the course of a matter of months. Bundesliga runners-up the past two seasons, champions the two before and UEFA Champions League finalists in 2013, Jürgen Klopp's multi-talented ensemble go into the winter break above cellar-dwellers SC Freiburg solely by dint of having scored one goal more than them - and as the only side in the division already with a double-figure loss tally.
With star forward Marco Reus suffering one injury setback after another and the new arrivals yet to truly make their mark, Klopp and Co. are facing a challenge of a quite different order over the months ahead as they reflect on finishing a calendar year in the relegation zone for the first time since 1984-85.
Every season sees the emergence - or re-emergence - of players few had reckoned with as centre-stage regulars. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is one such in 2013/14. Earmarked for an auxiliary role at FC Schalke 04, the summer signing from 1. FSV Mainz 05 has instead developed a deadly scoring partnership with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
In his second season back in the Bundesliga, Raul Bobadilla has meanwhile enjoyed a veritable form explosion at FC Augsburg, even though the bustling Argentinian forward is not playing in his favoured central role. At Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Karim Bellarabi, back from a loan spell with Eintracht Braunschweig, is positively flourishing under the wing of new head coach Roger Schmidt - so much so that he is now a full international for the world champions.
The Cream of the Crop
While the headline-grabbing form of some players has come as a pleasant surprise even to their own coaches and colleagues, the excellence of others has been pretty much par for the course. Penned in as the new creative linchpin at VfL Wolfsburg, Kevin De Bruyne is thus far duly obliging. Behind him, Naldo and the rather younger Ricardo Rodriguez have been equally superb for the high-flying Wolves.
The only team above them in the table, FC Bayern, are meanwhile benefiting from the ongoing form high of Arjen Robben, who has been on fire all year for club and country. And then there's Eintracht Frankfurt evergreen Alex Meier, out on his lonesome at the top of the individual scoring chart - despite starting the season on the bench under new coach Thomas Schaaf.
Where were you when...?
On Matchday 8, VfB Stuttgart managed to salvage a point after being 3-0 down at home to Bayer Leverkusen. Dramatic enough in itself but, as it turned out, only a taster of what was to come at Eintracht Frankfurt the following week. After being 3-1 in front, the visitors somehow found themselves trailing 4-3 going into the final ten minutes. Then they pulled level, leaving just one more all-deciding effort still to find the net in a nine-goal rollercoaster ride at the Commerzbank Arena.
Back on Matchday 1, returning loanee Bellarabi needed all of nine seconds to open Bayer Leverkusen's season account at Borussia Dortmund an all-time Bundesliga best-mark. The next record on the scoring front was not long in coming either: on Matchday 4, Moritz Stoppelkamp wrapped up a 2-0 victory over Hannover 96 for top-flight newbies SC Paderborn with a sensational effort from 82 metres out.