As the first half of the season enters the home straight, the Bundesliga table really started to take shape on Matchday 16 with clubs jostling for position on the penultimate round of fixtures before the winter break.
bundesliga.com has the the stories you need to know after an intriguing weekend of football in Germany's top flight.
Bayern bounce back
The champions provided the perfect riposte to their first defeat of the season in Mönchengladbach last week with victory over Bavarian neighbours FC Ingolstadt 04. The 2-0 win sealed the Herbstmeisterschaft for Bayern but they were made to work hard for it in the Bavarian derby. The Bundesliga new boys took the game to Bayern in the first half, trying to prove Gladbach’s point that fortune can favour the brave against the men from Munich. Pep Guardiola’s team, however, again showed in the second half that they ruthlessly punish every team that does not take their chance.
Can anyone stop Aubameyang?
Anything Robert Lewandowski can do… Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added to his incredible goal haul once again against Eintracht Frankfurt. The Gabon striker scored his 18th goal of the season in Borussia Dortmund's comfortable 4-1 win and could have had even more. 'Auba' missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time and had two further strikes chalked off for offside, although he wasn’t the only one: Dortmund were guilty of missed chances galore in a dominant display.
Leverkusen rediscover scoring touch
Having scored just 19 goals in their opening 15 matches, Bayer 04 Leverkusen made a statement of intent in the Matchday 16's stand-out fixture by beating top-four rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-0. Stefan Kießling and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez were on fire, bagging a brace and a hat-trick respectively. Kießling was involved in four of the five goals and Chicharito took his tally to nine in his last seven games as Leverkusen recorded a resounding 5-0 victory. The result also demonstrated…
...Andre Schubert is human after all
After a stunning ten-match unbeaten run following his appointment at Gladbach - including that sensational win over Bayern - Schubert was brought back down to earth with his first defeat as Foals’ coach. The five-goal thrashing in Leverkusen was Borussia’s biggest defeat in three years and meant that they relinquished third place in the Bundesliga and the final automatic qualifying place for the UEFA Champions League.
Hertha reach new heights
Gladbach were overtaken in third by Hertha Berlin following the capital club’s 4-0 thumping of SV Darmstadt 98. Not many would have predicted Hertha to be in such a lofty position at this stage of the season, but Pal Dardai’s side have well and truly established themselves as a serious contender this season. Vedad Ibisevic has firmly put his troubles at former club VfB Stuttgart behind him, with the Bosnian's brace in Darmstadt lifting his tally to six this campaign. His strike partnership with Salomon Kalou - now on eight - is developing into one of the league's most formidable.
Wolves tamed again
Prior to last week's defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, VfL Wolfsburg had established the Volkswagen Arena as one of the most feared stadiums to visit in German football. While the loss to BVB ended a 29-game unbeaten home run, perhaps even more worrying for coach Dieter Hecking was his side's Matchday 16 performance against Hamburger SV, who emerged with a point after a creditable 1-1 draw. With form stuttering on the road, the Wolves can ill-afford to drop too many points on home soil if they are to repeat this season's Champions League heroics next time out.
Bremen stop the rot
The storm clouds have been gathering over the Weser Stadium recently as Werder Bremen plummeted towards the drop zone. Viktor Skripnik’s side had lost five straight matches at home ahead of the visit by 1. FC Köln, but finally managed to pick up a point following a hard-fought 1-1 draw. The hosts were left to rue a missed opportunity however, as Anthony Ujah failed to score from the penalty spot against his former club. Had the Nigerian made it 2-0, Werder would surely have gone on to record all three points.
Huub works his magic
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim finally lifted their home hoodoo against Hannover on Matchday 16, recording a first win in front of their own fans this season. The Sinsheimers' home woes meant Huub Stevens' side had sunk to the Bundesliga basement but Jonathan Schmid’s solitary strike ensured all three points remain at the WIRSOL Arena. The win was also the first under coach Stevens, who took over prior to Matchday 11. Hoffenheim have, however, only lost one in six since the Dutchman took charge and confidence is growing that TSG emerge successfully from the relegation battle this season.
Augsburg back in the groove
Since qualifying for Europe for the first time in their history, FC Augsburg have experienced a few problems adjusting to the Thursday-Sunday rhythm that comes with UEFA Europa League football. Die Fuggerstädter have been in the relegation mire for most of the season but two wins in the last three games have lifted the Bavarians out of the drop zone and back on an upward trajectory. Coupled with the confidence qualification for the knock-out stages of the Europa League will bring, Augsburg seem set to push back towards the safety of mid-table.
Stuttgart finally find stability
Bottom-side VfB Stuttgart had conceded a staggering 36 goals in 15 Bundesliga games going into Friday evening's away match at in-form 1. FSV Mainz 05. The home side were on a five-match unbeaten run that had taken them into the thick of the race for Europe, but Stuttgart’s Polish keeper Przemyslaw Tyton pulled off a string of impressive saves to earn a precious point for the visitors and, almost as importantly, keep a rare clean sheet.