The shortest German Bundesliga winter break in years came to an end this past weekend.
Matchday 18 started on Friday, as Bayer Leverkusen hosted Bayern Munich, putting their unbeaten run since September to the test against the champions. That streak came to an end, as the Bavarians went home as 3-1 winners when all was set and done.
On Saturday afternoon, Werder Bremen snatched a point from TSG Hoffenheim in their 1-1 draw for the former’s fight against relegation. SC Freiburg did likewise against Eintracht Frankfurt, with the same score.
Elsewhere, FC Augsburg delivered a blow to Hamburger SV’s Bundesliga survival chances by defeating the league’s “dinosaur” 1-0. The loss also reportedly put HSV coach Markus Gisdol’s job in severe jeopardy.
Meanwhile, Hanover 96 turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory vs. Mainz 05, thanks to three Niclas Füllkrug goals.
VfB Stuttgart, the other promoted team also began the year 2018 with a win. They beat Hertha BSC Berlin 1-0 via a Niklas Stark own-goal, provoked by none other than VfB prodigal son Mario Gomez, on his return debut.
The top match on Saturday evening ended with a 3-1 triumph by RB Leipzig over Schalke 04, which saw the Saxons overtake their opponents in second place of the Bundesliga table.
On Sunday, 1.FC Cologne celebrated their second league win in a row (which also happened to be their second league win of the season), after a last-gasp 2-1 winner in the derby against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Later, Borussia Dortmund and VfL Wolfsburg drew 0-0. BVB star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed the match, due to an internal suspension. He had failed to arrive to a team meeting.
During the winter break, the following German Cup quarterfinal matches were drawn: Frankfurt vs. Mainz, Leverkusen vs. Bremen, SC Paderborn vs. Bayern and Schalke vs. Wolfsburg. They will take place on 6th and 7th of February.