The Bundesliga has been criticized for a lack of competition at the top in recent years, but the result that restarted the 2018-19 season has opened up a potentially thrilling title race.
Hoffenheim 1-3 Bayern Munich
(Schulz 58' — Goretzka 34', 45+1', Lewandowski 87')
Bayern Munich opened up their Bundesliga account in the New Year with a strong performance to beat hosts Hoffenheim by the same scoreline as the opening day of the season.
Niko Kovac's side dominated the first half and after wasting a handful of chances, eventually taking the lead when Leon Goretzka scored. Robert Lewandowski's header had been saved brilliantly by Oliver Baumann but Goretzka was on hand to fire in the rebound at the near post.
Not long afterwards, the former Schalke midfielder had a second. A superb break ended with Goretzka timing his run and outstretched leg perfectly to guide a cross into the back of the net.
Bayern lost their compactness in the second half and, for the second time in the game, a goal came from an opposing team's corner. Hoffenheim cleared, Joelinton found Leonardo Bittencourt who sent a high ball to Nico Schulz. The Germany international smashed home a half-volley and suddenly the game was on again.
Manuel Neuer made a superb save to deny Adam Szalai as Hoffenheim pushed for a second that would have flattered them, before Lewandowski swept home a third after a neat move started by Joshua Kimmich.
"The first half was sensational," Niko Kovac told ZDF after the game, before adding that was the kind of performance he expected from and knew his side were capable of delivering. The result leaves Bayern three points behind league-leaders Borussia Dortmund, who play RB Leipzig on Saturday.
As it happened:
90+1' Boateng comes on for Martinez. Three minutes of added time. Bayern Munich are about to start the year with a win...
87' GOAL! 3-1 Bayern Munich (Lewandowski) And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the game. Kimmich drills it from wide right to James in the middle. He sends a perfect dink back out wide right to Müller who passes first-time into Lewandowski to sweep home. Clinical, and this one is going to end the same way the opening game of the season did.
84' SAVE! Manuel Neuer didn't have a great 2018, but what a way to start the New Year. Szalai gets up to a cross and has surely equalized, but Neuer sprawls across goal and the combination of a strong wrist and palm keeps the ball out. A truly brilliant save.
78' James comes on for Thiago, who wasn't at his majestic best but was good enough. Hoffenheim bring off Joelinton, who worked tirelessly without as much reward as he probably deserved - Adam Szalai the man on for him. Any late drama in this one? It feels tired all of a sudden.
73' Bayern flash a header wide. Coman makes way for Gnabry. Hoffenheim feel like they're drawing breath for one last push, but they must make sure they don't concede whilst doing so because Bayern look more like scoring right about now.
67' We have a game now. A few rough tackles coming now. I wouldn't say flying in, but there's certainly a notch more aggression on show. First Goretzka on Bittencourt, then Posch on Lewandowski. Bayern know they've been better, but Hoffenheim sense they have a chance to get a point.
58' GOAL! Hoffenheim (Schulz) ...and ends in one of the great counterattacks! The header falls to Joelinton, who gets it out of the box and to a breaking Bittencourt. His high pass to Schulz is perfect and the German international heads it forward into his path before lashing a half volley home. Just gorgeous. Game on!
58' Florian Grillitisch comes on and gets booked. Silly tackle really. Alaba whips the free kick goalwards, and it bounes just before it gets to Baumann but the keeper palms away. Tricky those. Never know how to judge them. Corner is dealt with...
53' CHANCE! Hoffenheim should have one back. Thiago loses possession after pressing from Bittencourt, the home side burst forward but the passing is sloppy when it needs to be tight which means Neuer's save from Joelinton is good rather than in vain. Demirbay gets to the rebound but blazes over. Can't waste those against Bayern.
48' An end-to-end start to the second half. Kramaric's shot is blocked, then Goretzka nearly gets a third, but Müller overcooks his pass on the edge of the box after a break, then Goretzka nearly sets up Lewandowski but he misplaces his pass, then Goretzka nearly scores a header. A busy start! It's almost as if these two teams haven't played any football in a while.
46' The goalscorer gets us started for the second half.
Bayern deserve to be up by two and Leon Goretzka has been superb. Hoffenheim have been left chasing shadows since the start, and will have to deliver an even better second half than they did in Munich to even have a chance in this one.
45+1' GOAL! 2-0 Bayern Munich (Goretzka) Football can be a cruel game sometimes. Not for Bayern though! Hoffenheim have their best chance, but Hummels slides to clear and then Bayern break. The ball is shifted across the field, and then slipped across and into the box where Goretzka's outstretched boot is swung perfectly to connect with the ball and send it into the far corner. Game-changing performance.
40' Bayern are a little out of sorts after that goal. Perhaps it's just the satisfaction of scoring? Joelinton's shot is blocked, but Martinez's toe takes the brunt of it. He comes off, and then, eventually trots back on. Hoffenheim trying to get something together before the break, but they look as blue as their jerseys right now.
34' GOAL! 1-0 Bayern Munich (Goretzka) And there it is, the breakthrough. Baumann makes a remarkable save to deny an unmarked Lewandowski in the box but the rebound falls to Goretzka who drills in at the near post via a slightly deflection off Vogt's thigh. Tough on Baumann, but deserved for Bayern.
33' CHANCE! Bayern really should be ahead. One of those low, winding crosses that everyone thinks someone else will clear comes into the box, evades everyone and goes out. Foul is blown for Coman's eagerness to get to it, but oh my. Another big chance.
30' Bayern hitting their groove now. Goretzka forces a good save from Baumann out wide and then Müller flicks it into the Pole but the striker wasn't expecting it and the chance goes before it really came. Bayern have gone up a gear in the last few minutes.
28' CHANCE! Bayern should be ahead. Martinez flicks the corner goalwards, Hummels tries to poke home but Lewandowski gets in his way and blocks it and then the scramble ends with Baumann falling on the ball. One yard out and Bayern don't score! Huge break for the home side.
26' Hoffenheim getting a little sloppy in possession now, which isn't great given how much Bayern are growing into the game. Vogt loses the ball and then clambers all over Lewandowski to try and win it back, doesn't and gets rightfully booked. Alaba goes for goal from the 30 yard free kick (central) but it clips the wall and goes over. Corner.
21' A great corner routine, one that might get forgotten in the big picture. Kimmich goes low along the ground towards Goretzka who times his run towards the corner flag from the edge of the box perfectly so as to meet the ball just inside the box. The former Schalke man hits it first time, looking to dink it over Baumann who has come out to clear it. Amazingly, it almost works too but Baumann gets back in time. Would have been sensational...
19' CHANCE! Alaba again gets the ball in the box, this time with a stronger delivery. Lewandowski brings it down, Müller tries to get the shot off, but can't, falls over instead and then while on the ground, flicks the ball goalwards. Just wide. Thomas Müller in 10 seconds right there.
16' Drama. Joelinton is slightly late on Kimmich, who voices his discomfort. The Brazilian winger pushes the angry fullback in the chest. Kimmich squares up to him. Bit awkward given Kimmich is straining to look up at Joelinton, but after a word from the referee, play continues. Nervous energy I think.
13' Coman does that thing where he leaves and let the ball do the work and then, with Posch still catching up, the Frenchman turns on the jets and suddenly has space. Dangerous, or is that dangereux? Anyway, the ball comes in but Goretzka goes for the shot when the pass to Lewandowski was on. A waste, really.
11' CHANCE! Alaba gets a looped cross in, which falls to Lewandowski, but the striker connects awkwardly and it goes wide. Could have taken a touch, you know? Fancy a striker of the Pole's quality to get that on target.
8' Bayern looking good here so far. Neat touches, moving the ball around well. Nothing in terms of end product, but the game is still young. Lots of ball in Hoffenheim's half, which they might use to break at some point.
4' Lewandowski blasts over and Kramaric nods a header at Neuer. Both teams fresh out of the blocks, happy to be playing competitively. Great to have football back, isn't it?
1' Off we go! After the winter break, the first Bundesliga action of 2019 is underway.
20:22 - "I hope we play like we did in the second half in Munich," Nagelsmann tells ZDF ahead of the game. That performance was impressive despite being punished late for errors. Kickoff is approaching. The Bundesliga will finally be back!
19:31 - Teams! Alphonso Davies makes the bench, as does James. Bayern look pretty much at full strength, and have options on the bench with Serge Gnabry there as well. An argument to be made that this is their strongest XI, perhaps only if Gnabry were starting in place of Müller. Benjamin Hübner is back for Hoffenheim, and it's quite an attacking team selection from Julian Nagelsmann. All eyes will be on Joelinton who spoke about his desire to play for Brazil one day. A good performance tonight would go a long way...
Hoffenheim XI: Baumann - Schulz, Hübner, Vogt, Posch, Kaderabek - Demirbay, Bittencourt - Kramaric, Belfodil, Joelinton
Bayern Munich XI: Neuer - Alaba, Süle, Hummels, Kimmich - Martinez, Goretzka - Coman, Thiago, Müller - Lewandowski
18:33 - Line-ups should be out soon and it looks like James Rodriguez is going to start, although whether social media has provided the truth here remains to be seen. The playmaker hasn't started since Bayern Munich's home game against Freiburg at the start of November last year. Perhaps more exciting for Bayern fans though, is that Alphonso Davies might feature tonight. He appears to be in the squad, but it would be quite the bold move from Niko Kovac to drop the Canadian teenager straight into the starting eleven.
17.34 - Tonight also marks Julian Nagelsmann's 100th Bundesliga game in charge. He has 44 wins, 33 draws and 22 losses. He has a goal difference of +51 across those games too. A neat and tidy set of numbers there. If he were a cricketer, that would make quite the smart batting average.
15.25 - So it looks like Lucas Hernandez will not be coming to Bayern in this transfer window but what about Callum Hudson Odoi? This game will come too soon for the English youngster with Chelsea digging their heels in. I always wonder why pro football clubs dont have all their transfer business ready to go on Jan 1...other industries would within the same parameters...
13.25 - Tonight's game is 'almost' a derby compared to some of the longer trips Bayern will face in the second half of the season.
12.11 - Looks like Arjen Robben will join Franck Ribery on the sidelines tonight. Yet again injury and fitness concerns are set to rule out the ageing wingers. But have Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman done enough to be the first-choice widemen anyway?
11.00 - There is no chance of workaholic Julian Nagelsmann already turning his attention to new side RB Leipzig, where he takes over in July. Hoffenheim might be out of Europe but he is not the type to ruin his legacy in Sinsheim now.
10.09 - Much has been made of James Rodriguez's future at Bayern over the course of the season so far. In the second year of his two-year loan from Real Madrid, the Columbian has not been as prominent in Niko Kovac's plans, which has led to reports surfacing that the playmaker is unhappy with life in Munich. Kovac doesn't believe that will play a role during the second half of the season.
09.30 - Hoffenheim have won their last two homes games against Bayern. Since Julian Nagelsmann took charge, TSG have suffered just two losses in five meetings with the reigning champions. With no European football to contend with on their fixture list in 2019, Hoffenheim would send a big signal of intent if they can make it three wins in front of their own supporters.
09.05 - With plenty of time to spare before kickoff, why not cast your vote for DW's Goal of the Hinrunde?
08.31 - Bayern currently find themselves in the unfamiliar position of trailing at the halfway stage of the season with six points separating them and league leaders Borussia Dortmund. Featuring in the first game of the weekend gives the Bavarians an opportunity to strike first in the title race.
08.00 - Hello and welcome one and all to DW's live coverage of the Friday night action in Germany's top flight. One of the shortest winter breaks in recent seasons has taken an age to pass, but Bundesliga action returns to our screens later this evening and what a way to kick things off!
Hoffenheim play host to Bayern Munich, who after enduring more turbulence than they're used to in the first half of the season, will be desperate to get off on the right foot in 2019 as they look to get their bid for a seventh-straight title back on track. Can the German record titleholders prove lessons have been learned in an early acid test?