FC Bayern No. 1 Manuel Neuer could become the first goalkeeper to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or
FC Bayern No. 1 Manuel Neuer could become the first goalkeeper to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or

Bundesliga special - Best of December

Cologne - Two players very much preoccupied with the bottom-line business of goals feature large in the Bundesliga Special - Best of December highlights package.

Match of the month

Manuel Neuer has conceded fewer than anybody else by a country mile this season, while Alexander Meier is out on his own in the top-flight scoring department. December certainly provided talking points aplenty, and Bundesliga Special has packed together some of the best in this month's highlights show.

FC Bayern München duly closed out the first half of the Bundesliga season with their 14th win in 17 outings but 1. FSV Mainz 05 certainly made them work for it. The table-topping record champions had to battle back from behind to eventually clinch victory courtesy of Arjen Robben's last-minute strike.

It was the first attempt on goal of the contest from the 30-year-old Dutch ace but he was a fitting matchwinner nonetheless: 2014 was a remarkable year for Robben, for club and country alike, one in which he took his development as a rounded and effective team player to a still higher level.


Neuer had even more grounds for justified celebration in the year just ended. The goal put past him at Mainz made it a grand total of four conceded by the FC Bayern keeper in the entire first season-half. Devastating as they are up front, the Munich outfit's renewed dominance of the Bundesliga is down in at least equal measure to a rock-solid defence, of which Neuer is the inspirational last line.

The 28-year-old Gelsenkirchen native's ongoing rewriting of the traditional custodian's role, exemplified by his regular daring forays outside the box, is a development now best familiar to a global audience in the wake of Germany's World Cup triumph - and it could yet help make him the first goalkeeper to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or.

Player of the Month

While Bayern are setting the pace in virtually ever other category, it is Eintracht Frankfurt who boast the Bundesliga top scorer at the midway stage of the campaign. Meier has rattled the back of the net 13 times in 14 starts.

His is a remarkable tally that leaves the Eagles' diehard three clear of second-place Arjen Robben, with five of the former's goals came in December alone - a fruitful few weeks indeed for a player who just seems to be getting better with age. And to think he couldn't get a game at the beginning of the campaign...

BVB Report

Borussia Dortmund went into December with a new number 1 and an explicit determination to finally turn around a disastrous first season-half before the end of the year. The month started brightly enough, with Roman Weidenfeller's at least temporary replacement Mitchell Langerak keeping a clean sheet as they edged a 1-0 home win against TSG 1899 Hoffeneim.

That proved to be another false dawn, however, with defeats at Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen either side of a home draw against VfL Wolfsburg leaving the 2013 UEFA Champions League finalists to mull over the staggering prospect of a winter break spent in an automatic relegation berth - above cellar-dwellers SC Freiburg solely by dint of having scored one goal more.

European focus

One beacon of light in an otherwise gloomy campaign so far for Borussia Dortmund has been their form in the UEFA Champions League. Jürgen Klopp's charges qualified with something to spare for the last 16, where Serie A record champions Juventus now await them. The Bundesliga's three other representatives also made it through the group phase, a quota unmatched by any other league in Europe's elite club tournament this season.

FC Bayern are looking to go all the way again and Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk are the next obstacle in their path, while FC Schalke 04 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen face an ominous double-barrelled Madrid challenge in the shape of holders Real and their city rivals Atletico respectively, last season's beaten finalists. Germany has two further clubs still going strong in the UEFA Europa League as well: Borussia Mönchengladbach are also pitted against Spanish defending champions in the form of Sevilla FC, while VfL Wolfsburg go up against Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Historic decision, goal of the month

At their general meeting at the start of December, the Bundesliga clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of introducing goal-line technology as of next season. Controversies surrounding whether or not the ball actually crossed the line should thus, in theory, become a thing of the past. The players and coaches, not to mention the referees, are as enthusiastic as the clubs themselves about the impending arrival of Hawk-eye.

Don't be surprised to see one or other of those rockets from SV Werder Bremen's Zlatko Junuzovic making the cut in our look back at the best quartet of Bundesliga strikes in December. That said, he has plenty of competition, with the last few matchdays before the winter break delivering up a veritable glut of quality goals.

All this, and much, much more on the Bundesliga Special - Best of December show.