- Bayern lay down a marker with dismantling of Leipzig.
- Dortmund end 2016 unbeaten at home.
- Hoffenheim still unbeaten, Hamburg on the up.
There was drama, excitement and intrigue aplenty on Matchday 16 in the year's final round of Bundesliga games.
Bayern show Leipzig who's boss
Heading into Wednesday's clash at the Allianz Arena, there was more than a little doubt that FC Bayern München, Bundesliga champions for the past four seasons, would come out on top against Leipzig. The teams were level on 36 points, with Leipzig recently enjoying an eight-match winning streak, and the watching world was prepared to see them put their relentless pressing game into practice again and give Carlo Ancelotti's men the fright of their lives. The Bavarians' response to the challenge was emphatic, however, as they raced into a three-goal lead and consolidated top spot by half-time, thanks in large part to an inspirational performance from Thiago Alcantara. Enjoying regular football after a bit-part role under Pep Guardiola, the Spaniard scored one, made another and enjoyed more than twice as many touches as any Leipzig player. Their supremacy restored, the winter break will be all that more rewarding for Bayern. For ambitious Leipzig, meanwhile, the process of reflection on a sobering defeat will have already begun.
Dortmund end 2016 unbeaten at home
Borussia Dortmund will have been a little disappointed to round out 2016 with a third consecutive draw, but they did manage to make it through the entire calendar year without losing a league game at home for the first time in 51 years. In 17 outings, the Black-and-Yellows clocked up 12 wins and five draws at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, scoring 39 goals, conceding just 11 and keeping eight clean sheets. Thomas Tuchel's side are 12 points behind leaders Bayern in the standings but are still going strong in the DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League. If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Ousmane Dembele can keep up their remarkable goalscoring form from the first half of the season, they could well be adding some eagerly-awaited silverware to their trophy cabinet come the end of the campaign.
Hrgota following in Meier's footsteps?
Branimir Hrgota was the star of the show for Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday, his two goals and an assist ensuring a comfortable 3-0 victory over 1. FSV Mainz 05 and providing further evidence of what a shrewd move it was to bring him in from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer. With the 23-year-old now firmly settled, coach Niko Kovac will be hoping Hrgota can help ease the goalscoring burden on captain Alexander Meier. The veteran has not lost his killer instinct just yet - he remains their top scorer this season, won the Torjägerkanone in 2014/15 and has scored 91 times in 262 Bundesliga games for the club - but as he approaches his 34th birthday, it is time for the Eagles to start thinking about his successor. Before this month, Hrgota had not scored a league goal since February 2015, but he ends the year having notched three in three games to leave Frankfurt in a UEFA Champions League spot. He could very well be the ideal long-term replacement for Eintracht's "Football God".
Hoffenheim's 'Invincibles' still going strong
You would be hard-pressed to find many similarities between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Real Madrid CF, but one stands out above all at present: they are the only two clubs in Europe's top five leagues to remain undefeated in 2016/17, following TSG's 1-1 draw with SV Werder Bremen on Wednesday. To break that down, a side coached by a 29-year-old and one that narrowly avoided relegation last term has now gone 16 matches unbeaten, a remarkable achievement. Over the winter, Julian Nagelsmann will look to work on closing matches out - of their 10 draws, Hoffenheim surrendered a lead in six of them, including the last two against Bremen and Borussia Dortmund - but the Landsberg native and his team can nonetheless look back on a fantastic first half of the season and calendar year as a whole.
Wood and Hamburg rejuvenated
Another matchday and another excellent win for a reinvigorated Hamburger SV side. Wednesday evening saw HSV claim a third victory in four with a hard-fought 2-1 win against a much-improved FC Schalke 04. Things looked bleak for Markus Gisdol in his opening weeks in the Hamburg hot seat, as his team failed to score in his first four games and did not win until his eighth match in charge. However, the coach's efforts have not only stimulated his team into running more as a collective, they have also inspired an improvement in key individuals. Nicolai Müller and Filip Kostic have contributed six goals and four assists between them since Gisdol took over, while USA international Bobby Wood has netted in his last two matches after a dry spell of nine games. HSV still occupy the relegation play-off spot over Christmas, but playing with an energetic style that has the fans on side once more, they can look ahead to 2017 with confidence.