Sunday saw Schalke 04 move level on points with Bayern Munich at the Bundesliga summit following a 1-0 derby win over Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalen Stadium.
Schalke in jubilant spirits after beating Borussia Dortmund
Brazilian Ailton scored the only goal of the game on 17 minutes to continue Schalke's fantastic record over their neighbors, who haven't won the fixture since 1998.
"It was my first derby match with Schalke and the atmosphere was incredible," admitted Ailton. "It is too early to say whether I will win the title for the second year in a row. We will have to wait and see."
"For Ailton's goal we had two players lying on the ground and it is not easy to defend when you are on your backside," fumed Dortmund chief Bert van Marwijk. Dortmund are now 14th in the Bundesliga table just three points clear of the relegation zone.
In Sunday's second contest, also a derby, Kaiserslautern beat their easterly neighbors, 2-0.
Meanwhile, leaders Bayern Munich were left cursing a late slip that allowed Bavarian rivals FC Nuremberg to peg them back to a 2-2 draw on Saturday. Bayern and Schalke are now level on 33 points and both sides have a chance of winning the honorific title of 'winter champions' in the final set of fixtures before the winter hiatus next weekend.
Goals aplenty in week 16
If Freiburg want to stay in the first division, they didn't show it on Saturday. They fell hard, losing 6-0 to defending champions Bremen. The contest was decided early as Miroslav Klose (10 goals this season) scored in a span of three minutes midway through the first half. Greek striker Angelos Charisteas extended the lead to 3-0 for Bremen in the 31st minute.
In the second half, Charisteas would score twice more and Johan Micoud would put one in the net. The long trip to Freiburg was definitely worth it for Bremen.
Freiburg look like they have given up all hope of dragging themselves away from relegation. They are now in last place on ten points. Bremen have had problems all season getting victories against obviously weaker opponents but did it this Saturday. Thomas Schaaf's club has 27 points and is sitting in 6th place.
A second match finished 6-0, this one in Berlin where Hertha tore Borussia Mönchengladbach apart. The game was close at half, 1-0 on a Giuseppe Reina goal. In the second half, the dams broke. Yildiray Bastürk scored twice, Alexander Madlung, Nando Rafael and Marcelinho the remaining goals.
Gladbach have dropped their last three games, as they find themselves just outside the relegation zone on 16 points. Berlin have not lost since October 26 and are in seventh place.
Seven goals fell in Stuttgart as the home team won 5-2 against Bochum. The hosts went ahead 2-0 on a Bochum own goal and a Kevin Kuranyi strike. Bochum fought back gamely, tying it early in the second half before Stuttgart sealed it with three goals within 14 minutes. Bochum remains in 16th place in the drop zone; Stuttgart is now in third place.
Former leaders drifting back
Wolfsburg had been sitting in first place for much of the season. Now they have lost three in a row after a heart-wrenching defeat in Leverkusen, 2-1. Maybe they went ahead too early. In the fourth minute Diego Klimowicz scored. Leverkusen tied it just as the second half started and then handed Wolfsburg the defeat with a Franca headball goal in the 89th minute. Wolfsburg is slowly drifting downwards, now in fifth on 27 points. Leverkusen has 25 and sits in eighth place.
The Bundesliga hasn't taken Hanover seriously so far this season, but their solid play, particularly on defense, has sent them skyrocketing to the top ranks. On Saturday, they handily beat Hamburg on the road, 2-0 and sit incredibly in fourth place on 28 points. Hamburg was hot coming into the match. Nevertheless, they are still in the middle of the pack on 22 points.
Hansa Rostock did their best to win on the road in Bielefeld. They took the lead in the 52nd minute but Bielefeld came home with the draw on Patrick Owomoyela's goal in the 64th minute. Because of the extent of the Freiburg defeat, Rostock exits the cellar on goal difference and stands in 17th on 10 points.