The first half of the Bundesliga season has been and gone, with Matchday 17 bringing the curtain down on top-flight football in Germany for 2015.
bundesliga.com takes a look back at the final, pulsating weekend of action in the Bundesliga in 2015.
Müller draws level with Matthäus
Thomas Müller is one of FC Bayern München’s most reliable performers, a point he proved once again as he scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Hannover 96 to set a new single-season personal best. The goal, his 85th in Germany’s top flight, also sees him draw level with Lothar Matthäus in ninth place on the club’s all-time Bundesliga goalscoring charts. While Gerd Müller’s legendary tally of 365 may prove unassailable for his namesake, at just 26 years of age and with his best years ahead of him, should the home-grown talent double his tally before hanging up his boots, there will be a Müller one-two at the top.
Köln and Modeste end droughts
Without a win in four Bundesliga outings having scored just once in that timeframe, 1. FC Köln faced the unenviable task of hosting a Borussia Dortmund side for whom goalscoring has been no issue in 2015/16. Things looked to be following a similar storyline until a late two-goal salvo saw them overturn a one-goal deficit and pick up a first win in six home games. A further positive for the Billy Goats came in the form of Anthony Modeste ending a run of 682 minutes without a goal when he scored the winner in the 90th minute.
Dortmund end year on disappointing note
While they will sit prettily in the top two during the winter break courtesy of their best Hinrunde record (12W, 2D, 3L) in five years, Dortmund will undoubtedly be disappointed to have ended a turbulent calendar year with a loss. Köln proved a bogey side for BVB last season, taking points off the five-time Bundesliga champions in both encounters, and the Cathedral City side duly struck again thanks to their stunning comeback and little bit of help from Roman Bürki. However, despite ending the year on a sour note, it is fair to say that the start of Thomas Tuchel’s tenure as head coach has been a resounding success.
Bayer 04 clinch signing of the season
Bayer 04 Leverkusen have had to endure a topsy-turvy first half of the 2015/16 campaign, but they may not have wanted the winter break to arrive after securing three consecutive wins for the first time this season. Their 1-0 win over Ingolstadt was a scrappy affair decided by one clinical finish that came courtesy of their goalscorer supreme Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. The Mexican struck with his only shot of the game to take his tally to 19 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions clinching Die Werkself a top six standing at the halfway stage of the season. Douglas Costa may have been an early frontrunner for signing of the season, but Chicharito has left the Brazilian in his wake.
Augsburg find form before festive period
For FC Augsburg, similar to Leverkusen, the one-month hiatus has not arrived at the most convenient of times. Die Fuggerstädter made a torrid start to the season, which left them languishing in the bottom three between Matchday 7 and Matchday 15. However, a stunning resurgence which started with a 4-0 win over Stuttgart on Matchday 13 sparked a run of five games unbeaten (4W, 1D) that was capped off by their 1-0 away win over Hamburger SV on Saturday. Now up into 12th, the prospect does not look so bleak for Markus Weinzierl’s men, who also have a UEFA Europa League tie with Liverpool to look forward to in 2016.
Stuttgart climb off foot of the table
If VfB Stuttgart had had a fit and in-form Daniel Didavi for the entire Hinrunde, it is hard to see them still being in the position they are in now. He was at his inspirational best on Matchday 17, scoring two stunning goals to help the Swabians pick up their first win under Jürgen Kramny, whose reward was a full-time contract as head coach until 2017. Saturday's 3-1 win over high-flying VfL Wolfsburg was the weekend's biggest upset and it lifted Stuttgart out of the bottom three, making for a much more serene winter break down in Baden-Württemberg's capital.
No happy ending on Huub’s return
Huub Stevens was voted by FC Schalke 04 as their coach of the century, but that is as far as their gratitude for him extended on Matchday 17 as the Royal Blues inflicted a 1-0 defeat on his current side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to leave the Baden-Württemberg club propping up the table going into 2016. It is set to be an uncomfortable winter in Sinsheim as the threat of relegation looms, with Stevens promising to "put this behind us" and "come back after the break with fresh minds."
Relegation battle rages on
Hoffenheim are not the only team with relegation preoccupations accompanying them into the winter break. Right the way up to Augsburg, the threat of the drop is palpable, and that includes SV Werder Bremen, who were sucked right in there by Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 17. The northern Germany side, who were one of the frontrunners at the start of the season, could not even rejoice in a fine Claudio Pizarro goal in their defeat to the Eagles, who are not out of the woods by a long way either. Hannover 96, VfB Stuttgart and SV Darmstadt 98 will also be casting worried glances over their shoulders this winter too.
Hertha holding strong
Hertha Berlin have their sights firmly focused on European football next season after concluding 2015 with three straight wins. Their 2-0 Matchday 17 triumph over 1. FSV Mainz 05 was emphatic proof that the Old Lady is ready for its return to continental competition, with Vladimir Darida and Salomon Kalou firing Pal Dardai's side into a position they last occupied seven years ago. In 2008/09, they went on to finish fourth – a position which would earn them a UEFA Champions League play-off this time around. And with 32 points in the bank already, relegation is not going to be a concern for Hertha in 2016.
Gladbach make history
Borussia Mönchengladbach complete the mid-season top four after coming from behind to win with a man down for the first time in their Bundesliga history. Andre Schubert's Foals looked to be heading for a second straight defeat when Granit Xhaka saw red with his side already trailing SV Darmstadt 98 1-0, but the superlative Lars Stindl levelled before half time. Both sides scored again, before Stindl teed up Oscar Wendt - Gladbach have never lost in the Bundesliga when the Swede has scored - for a late winner. From bottom of the table after Matchday 5 to fourth at Christmas, it might just be the story of an enthralling Hinrunde.