For one last time in 2015, the Bundesliga throws up a set of nine tantalising fixtures sure to delight and distress in equal measure as the 18 top-flight sides get set to head into the winter break.
Accordingly, bundesliga.com has broken down the five sub-plots worth keeping an eye on this weekend…
Bayern out to maintain lead at the top
Having wrapped up the Herbstmeisterschaft with their win over FC Ingolstadt 04 last weekend, FC Bayern München are guaranteed to sit atop the standings over the festive period. Pep Guardiola has "good health and lots of champagne" on his Christmas wish-list, but will also be expecting his side to, at the very least, maintain their five-point advantage at the summit. Relegation-threated Hannover 96 should provide the perfect fodder for the title-hungry Bavarians, who will undoubtedly welcome the chance to solve some of their injury issues during the one-month hiatus as they head into 2016 looking to clinch a record fourth-straight Bundesliga title.
Aubameyang’s last chance to add to tally
A total of 41 goals in all competitions in the current calendar year is a record worthy of the world’s most prolific forwards and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang certainly falls into that category. The Gabon striker has hit a purple patch of the deepest tone in 2015 and, having netted again in the 2-0 win over FC Augsburg in the DFB Cup third round, will have one last crack at adding to his tally when Borussia Dortmund travel to Cologne. That is perhaps easier said than done, though, when you consider that 1. FC Köln took four points from their two games against the five-time Bundesliga champions last season. Christmas could come early for the goal-shy cathedral-city side should they repeat that feat on Saturday.
Gladbach hoping to end 2015 on a high
After enjoying an unprecedented resurgence under new head coach Andre Schubert, Borussia Mönchengladbach are now hoping to avoid finding any coal in the bottom of their stockings. The Foals have suffered three straight defeats in all competitions, including most recently a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to SV Werder Bremen in the DFB Cup third round, but are confident of picking themselves up and ending the calendar year on a high. Schubert has however stressed that "it won’t be an easy match" against SV Darmstadt 98, who themselves are looking to ensure they have some breathing room above the drop zone heading into the second half of the season.
Kieß-arito connection arrives in Ingolstadt
Like a cinnamon stick in mulled wine, Stefan Kießling’s efforts of late - registering three goals and three assists in his last two competitive appearances - have perfectly complimented Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez’s exploits in front of goal. The Mexican has netted 18 times in 21 appearances in all competitions, failing to score in only two of his last 11 outings and will need to have his shooting boots on against the league’s second leanest defence. Only FC Bayern have conceded fewer goals than Ingolstadt so far this season, but whether the newly-promoted side are triumphant or not on Saturday, 2015 will forever be remembered as an historic year for Die Schanzer.
Will Stuttgart be rock bottom at Christmas?
Currently propping up the Bundesliga standings ahead of a clash with improving VfL Wolfsburg, it looks like it could be a bleak midwinter for VfB Stuttgart. The calendar year has been full of high and lows, but head coach Jürgen Kramny and Co will be hoping the former rings true when they play host to the Wolves. Die Schwaben picked up a much-needed confidence boost after booking their place in the DFB Cup quarter finals with a 3-2 win over Eintracht Braunschweig and Kramny is intent on "picking up a positive result" in their final pre-Christmas fixture against a Wolfsburg side on a six-game winning streak.