The final matchday of 2015 and there is plenty to discuss. Stuttgart showed exactly what they can do on Saturday evening, while Borussia Dortmund struggled and more head coaches look to be heading for the door.
It's raw in Stuttgart, but worth investing in
Yes, Stuttgart have been in the bottom three of the Bundesliga for the majority of this season. Yes, they have conceded the most goals of any team in the Bundesliga. But this team has talent, and with the right development and teaching - which can come from a new coach - good things can happen.
Comparing Stuttgart to the sides around them, the young squad is far more exciting than the rest. Timo Werner, Lukas Rupp, Filip Kostic, Alexandru Maxim, and the star man on Saturday evening, Daniel Didavi, have all produced special moments this season. Didavi's opener was top draw: a dipping, swerving strike which Diego Benaglio could do nothing about.
Sometimes, with youngsters looking to prove themselves, the 'team' aspect of play can be lost, as each individual attempts to show their worth. Didavi's second on Saturday though, proved that isn't the case in Stuttgart. Rupp headed down to Christian Gentner, who passed to Florian Klein. The midfielder's first-time ball was perfectly placed for Didavi, who made space for himself before smashing home in a flawless move. Even after Tino Sunjic was sent for an early shower, Wolfsburg never looked in total control.
It was by far the best that Stuttgart have played all season and with it coming in the final game before the winter break, fans, as well as the players, have renewed hope that relegation can be avoided. More than that, it shows what potential this current crop has under the right head coach.
Head coaches on borrowed time?
Four names immediately spring to mind as head coaches under pressure in the Bundesliga. The most pressing, following the results of Matchday 17 especially, is Viktor Skripnik, whose Werder Bremen side have dropped into the relegation play-off spot. Pressure needs to be measured with expectations in these situations, but last season left many believing Werder were a team ready to fulfill their potential. It's the halfway point of the following season and there's no sign of that happening.
Roger Schmidt is another, but he was saved on Satuday - and has been all season - by Javier Hernandez. Leverkusen collected only seven defeats all of last season, but at the halfway stage this time around the tally is already at six. The team is one-dimensional, and despite a great result against Borussia Mönchengladbach, expectations, in this case, are not being met.
Hannover's Michael Frontzeck and Frankfurt's Armin Veh have struggled, and although expectations are not as high at their respective clubs, they too are walking a tight rope.
Dortmund kicking themselves
Competing with Bayern Munich is hard enough at any level, in any competition. For Borussia Dortmund the issue is not being able to match the German champions, but to make sure they themselves keep to a standard that Bayern find so easy to uphold.
On Saturday,a simple set-piece goal gave Dortmund
the lead, as it did for Bayern. However two mistakes which were certainly avoidable, turned three points into none. Last season the lapses in concentration came in almost every game, but still under Thomas Tuchel the mistakes are appearing, and costing BVB. Bayern Munich don't make mistakes, and rarely lose in games like Dortmund did on Saturday, and certainly not in the same way.
In the bigger picture, it's the difference between winning the Bundesliga title or finishing second. Dortmund have no problem scoring, as the Bundesliga's top scorers have already bested their tally from last season at the halfway stage of this campaign. But with Bayern now eight points clear with 17 games to play, the task looks beyond Tuchel and his men, if it wasn't already.