Coming up on the Bundesliga Preview Show this week...
The bulk of the opening matchday of 2015 just about squeezed into the tail-end of January and the Preview Show's monthly highlights programme gives that its due, with the focus above all on Friday's curtain-raising encounter between the top two – a poignant occasion above and beyond the game itself. Individual matchwinners and winter movers feature as well, alongside some insights from the still new-ish Schalke head coach. And we head south and west, for a few final reflections on the Bundesliga winter world tour.
Two first-half goals from Bas Dost and two more after the break from Kevin De Bruyne sank unbeaten Bayern with barely a trace; two inside the final half-hour from Marcel Risse got Köln's year off to a winning start at Hamburg; and Nils Petersen topped the lot with a second-half hattrick on his league debut for Freiburg, to dispatch Frankfurt. A look at the men who made the ultimate difference on Matchday 18.
Two of the most eye-catching moves of the winter transfer window saw a return to beloved pastures old for a couple of firm fans' favourites. Hannover 96 welcomed Didier Ya Konan back into the fold after a brief detour to Saudi Arabia, while Ivica Olic swapped Wolfsburg for a second stint at Hamburger SV. Nils Petersen's loan move from Bremen to SC Freiburg meanwhile paid instant dividends as the former Bundesliga 2 top scorer bagged three on his debut for the Black Forest outfit. An overview of the standout transfers, including any last-gasp activity on deadline day.
FC Schalke 04 also plumped for winter training in Doha again and it was while there that Roberto Di Matteo clocked up his 100th day in charge of the Royal Blues. In his first few months, the former Italy international has already got the team moving in a solidly if unspectacularly upward direction, with a single-goal victory over Hannover at the weekend lifting them into the top four. Before the action restarted in earnest, Di Matteo took time out to discuss his philosophy of the game and his immediate and longer-term aims for Schalke.
Five ducks and one frog battled it out in the grand finale of the inaugural Bunducksliga at the Duck Speedway – and the social media response was absolutely quackers.