The final matchday of 2023 is upon us as the Bundesliga enters its hibernation period. The last round of fixtures however promises to deliver the usual thrills, spills and excitement with some teams due some Christmas cheer, while for others it will be a case of ‘bah humbug’. Here are five talking points ahead of matchday 16…
1. Can Bayer Leverkusen finish the Hinrunde unbeaten?
With twelve wins and three draws from their opening 15 Bundesliga matches this season Bayer Leverkusen are going a long way to perhaps finally ridding themselves of their cruel moniker of ‘Neverkusen’. Xabi Alonso’s side are guaranteed to finish top of the table going into the Winterpause (courtesy of Bayern’s game in hand) and avoiding defeat on Wednesday against VfL Bochum will see them finish the first half of the season unbeaten.
The visit of the Ruhr side would appear to be a straightforward encounter for the Werkself, but in this league as we all know- anything is possible. With the African Nations Cup due to deprive Leverkusen of key players in January, taking the full three points and potentially extending their lead at the top could be crucial.
2. Will Harry Kane fill his Christmas stocking with even more goals?
Anybody still doubting Bayern’s wisdom in spending so much to bring Harry Kane to the Allianz Arena will be left eating their words if the England captain keeps up his spectacular scoring run against VfL Wolfsburg on Wednesday. The €100 million man from Tottenham is showing just why Daniel Levy was prepared to play hardball in the summer for his signature.
Twenty goals already in just fourteen appearances has him on course to surpass even the outstanding season achievements of Robert Lewandowski (who previously had surpassed the superhuman scoring of Gerd Müller). You wouldn’t put it past König Harry to add to his impressive goal scoring tally against die Wölfe.
3. Who will finish bottom of the pile going into the Winterpause?
Nobody wants to go into the mid-season break at the bottom of the table, but the wooden spoon has to be won by somebody and there are four clubs looking to avoid that fate. Darmstadt and Mainz currently occupy the bottom two with a paltry nine points with Köln and Union Berlin just a single point ahead of them in the table.
Union actually plays Köln which could have a big say in eventual bottom spot. Darmstadt have a tricky away trip to Hoffenheim on Tuesday, whereas Mainz have an equally tricky trip to face Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park a day later.
4. Can Borussia Dortmund end the year on a high?
There are still so many doubts surrounding Borussia Dortmund as they attempt to lay to rest the ghost of the 2022-23 season and their surrender of the Meisterschale. Coach Edin Terzic is still under intense scrutiny despite having overseen their progress to the Champions League knock-out stage.
In the league, they are going to spend the Winterpause outside the top four and will be hoping for a much improved display in the Rückrunde (as experienced last season). The visitors on Tuesday however are Mainz- the club that ruined their title dreams on the final day of last season with their 2-2 draw. Revenge will be on the cards, but BVB have bigger fish to fry.
5. Which face of Eintracht Frankfurt will we see?
Bayern Munich’s sole defeat thus far this season came on matchday 14 and it was a real doozy. The 5-1 mauling they received at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt was a shock and surprise to everyone with the Adler ending a four-match losing streak.
Dino Toppmõller’s side however failed to build upon the upset with a loss to Aberdeen in Europe followed by a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend. They face Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday with the outside chance of moving into the top six. Will we see the conquerors of FC Bayern, or the other less palatable face of Eintracht Frankfurt this week?