In part two of our series, we look at six sides who are still looking to iron out a few minor creases ahead of the Bundesliga restart...
SV Werder Bremen
Winter form: WWWLW
Viktor Skripnik's men ended 2014 with a bang by beating Borussia Dortmund and 2015 has begun with some strong results, including wins against other top-flight opposition in Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hannover 96. They also beat FC Energie Cottbus before slipping to defeat against MSV Duisburg, but encouragingly have found goals relatively easy to come by of late. With a fit Franco di Santo set to return, that bodes well for the northerners. Jannik Vestergaard and Koen Casteels have also arrived from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to help stabilise the defence, and fans can justifiably hope their team’s progression under Skripnik continues.
Winter form: DWWWL
Hannover's first few games of the second half of the season could be pivotal in determining whether or not the Reds can dream of European football again next season. Tayfun Korkut's side will be hoping to start the Rückrunde the same way they hit the ground running in the Hinrunde, which began with three wins and a draw from their first five games - precisely the same form they have shown in five warm-up matches this winter. After being held to a goalless draw by Istanbul Basaksehir, Hannover recorded wins over BSC Young Boys, FC Viktoria Plzen and FC Aarau, losing only to Bremen. FC Schalke 04 away is a tough start to the Rückrunde, but they will consider 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Hamburger SV as beatable opposition.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Winter form: WLW
They may have missed out on lifting the Florida Cup during their mid-season training camp in Orlando, but Leverkusen head coach Roger Schmidt has declared himself satisfied with die Werkself's form during the winter break. A narrow defeat to SC Corinthians Paulista was sandwiched between impressive wins over Fluminense FC and 1. FSV Mainz 05, the latter setting Schmidt's charges up nicely for their Rückrunde opener against 17th-place Borussia Dortmund on Saturday evening. As an added bonus, Croatian international Tin Jedvaj has made his loan move from AS Roma permanent this month, although he will miss the BVB encounter and subsequent matches with injury.
Winter form: WLW
A maiden European finish would crown a season in which, thus far, FC Augsburg have enjoyed their best ever Bundesliga season since promotion in 2011, and while the Bavarians are trying to maintain a low profile, the signing of the signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg suggests quite the opposite. The Danish talent on loan from Bayern, along with friendly wins against Gaziantepspor and SpVgg Greuther Fürth, has been a big boost to the Bavarians, while Hojbjerg himself has benefited hugely from a week in Turkey to warm up for the season restart. Coach Markus Weinzierl and his players will be hoping to avoid a repeat of how they began the season: back-to-back defeats to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Dortmund.
SC Paderborn 07
Winter form: WWWDL
Only 12 months ago, SC Paderborn coach Andre Breitenreiter put pen to paper on a new contract looking to "further establish" the East Westphalians in Bundesliga 2. There followed an unprecedented second half of the season that led to an unexpected promotion - Paderborn's first ever to the promised land of the top flight - and a remarkable Hinrunde that won them a legion of fans around the globe. As meteoric as their rise has been, the club will now be looking to continue that progression. They managed three wins in their five mid-season friendlies (against SC Wiedenbrück, FC Kray and FC Erzgebirge Aue) and will fancy their chances when they resume their campaign against Mainz, HSV and 1. FC Köln.
Winter form: WLLWW
Like Paderborn, all three of the Foals' wins during mid-season have come against lower league opposition. Lucien Favre’s charges kicked off their winter schedule with a 2-0 victory over DSC Arminia Bielefeld and also won their two most recent friendlies - against Rot-Weiss Essen and 1. FC Kaiserslautern. However, fellow Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen condemned Gladbach to a narrow 3-2 defeat, before Turkish top-flight side Genclerbirligi SK beat them 4-2. Favre will be hopeful of starting the Rückrunde with a positive result against VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 18, but die Fohlen will scarcely forget that they have won only five of their 40 league meetings with Stuttgart in the Bundesliga.