It takes more than a bit of snow to stop a Bundesliga game, although the players usually have a chance to escape the cold during the winter break. - © gettyimages / Dean Mouhtaropoulos
It takes more than a bit of snow to stop a Bundesliga game, although the players usually have a chance to escape the cold during the winter break. - © gettyimages / Dean Mouhtaropoulos
Bundesliga

The Bundesliga's winter break explained

What IS the winter break? Or the Winterpause as the Germans call it? It is pretty much exactly what it says: a kind of an extended coffee break for footballers between matches, a short sabbatical to recharge the batteries before getting back to the daily grind of winning games. Basically, the football stops because it gets really cold.

With average January temperatures below freezing across Germany, it makes sense to take a breather when snowballs are easier to kick than footballs, and to stage games might require ice skates rather than studs, not just for the players — undersoil heating in Germany's stadia usually helps them out with that — but for fans hoping to see their heroes in action.

Watch: It's snow joke! Cologne and Freiburg scored seven in a snowstorm in 2017/18

Almost a month in 2018/19

Last season, Bundesliga players had to be content with a shorter than usual winter break, due to the staging of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. There were just 22 days between Bayern Munich's 2-1 DFB Cup victory over Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund and their 3-1 dismissal of Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 18.

In 2018/19 there are no such scheduling issues to contend with. The players will down tools just before Christmas, on the weekend of the 21-23 December, and will not return to Bundesliga action until the start of the Rückrunde on 18-20 January.

- © imago / Sven Simon

So, what will teams do?

Usually, Winterpause rhymes with 'sun, sand and sweat' in post-Christmas training camps dotted around southern Europe, beginning in early January.

Last year, while Bayern travelled to Qatar, nine other clubs made the shorter trip to Spain, though topping up energy levels, not tans, is always the priority.

"We see it as a big advantage if the team is together for a few days to focus ourselves on the Rückrunde," explained Augsburg Team Manager Stefan Reuter. "And the climatic conditions in Tenerife are simply the best."

- © imago / Dennis Grombkowski

Working from home

Not everybody agrees. In January 2018, Hoffenheim, Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig decided to stay closer to home, preferring to spend precious hours on their own training pitches rather than dealing with autograph and selfie hunters in airport waiting lounges.

- © imago / Kalvenbach

And in other countries?

The Bundesliga stars are not alone in getting the chance to put their talented feet up.

Regions of France can be caught in winter's icy grip, so they also have a break, known as la trêve (literally, "the truce"). It is always shorter than in Germany as Ligue 1 has 20 teams rather than the Bundesliga's 18, meaning there are four more league matches to play a season.

France will take a break from 23 December to 11 January this season while in Spain, La Liga stops at the same time but returns even earlier, on the weekend of the 5-6 January. Italy will plough on with its Serie A fixtures either side of Christmas and New Year's Day, although the players will get a short breather from the start of the year until the round of Coppa Italia fixtures on 13 January.