As northern Europe desperately tries to shake off the winter snows and peer forlornly to the horizon looking for Spring, the time has come to start talking about the Bundesliga championship. Bayer Leverkusen's disappointing (for them at least) draw at Bochum finally left the door ajar for the resurgent, and it must be said magnificent, Bayern Munich.
Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes said he was not worried after only managing a 1-1 draw with tenacious but struggling Bochum but the Bundesbag is not convinced. Eren Derdiyock opened the scoring just before half time to put the League leader in front. However, Bochum under new coach Heiko Herlich are back to their usual competitive no-nonsense selves and found an equaliser through the Slovenian Zlatko Dedic.
Bayern on the other hand have now won 11 straight matches and are on the kind of run that took Wolfsburg to the title last season. And it was current champions who were Louis Van Gaal's latest victims thanks to goals from Robben, Van Buyten and Ribery. Grafite's close range shot for the consolation barely covered up a wretched performance by himself (he missed a penalty in the same game) and his team mates. The club recently appointed Dieter Hoeneß as General Manager, relieving the corresponding duties from head coach Armin Vey. As the results continued to take a downturn, Vey was finally sacked. The caretaker boss Lorenz-Gunther Kostner, has been retained until the end of the season. The club look like they've thrown in the towel this season and will look to rebuild with the money from the sale of Grafite, Dzeko and possibly Misimovic in the Summer.
But Bayern are awesome and more importantly, only goal difference separates them from top spot. You get the impression that any further slip ups from Leverkusen could cost them their shot at the Bundesliga. That said, Bayern's continued success depends largely (although not exclusively) on Robben and Ribery - two players who have been no strangers to the treatment table in recent years. Should one or both go missing then the outcome of the Bundesliga championship is far from certain. One thing is certain - the race is most definitely on!
Meanwhile, in Freiburg, Schalke were held to a 0-0 draw to lose ground on the top two. Six points behind them are Hamburg and Dortmund. Both teams were involved in high scoring action at the weekend. Hamburg threw away a 3-1 lead at Koln in the last minutes thanks to a fortunate deflection from Adil Chihi who equalised. Ruud van Nistelrooy made a brief cameo at the end of the game and Bruno Labbadia will be hoping that he links up well with the excellent Mladen Petric who scored two goals. Quite what Labbadia plans to do about Hamburg's defence is another question altogether.
BVB lost at home to Eintracht Frankfurt at the Westfalon for the first time in 19 (nineteen) years. It was a cracking game which ended 3-2 to the visitors thank to goals from Kohler, Jung & Meier. Hats off to coach Michael Skibbe for making Frankfurt interesting.
Elsewhere, Hannover 96 are still rubbish despite the arrival of new coach Mirko Slomka. They lost 2-1 to Hoffenheim (although Kone's strike for the 96ers was superb). Mainz are back on track with a 1-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Stuttgart's rise from oblivion continued after beating Nurnberg 2-1. Look out for some comedy keeping from Jens.
Finally, Werder Bremen have won a football match. Needless to say it was against perennial whipping boys and sometime Hannover botherers Hertha. Marco Marin's picture book strike opened the scoring. 'Fanis Geikas did what Berlin coach Friedhelm Funkel signed him for - to score their consolation goals. Inevitably the Bremen winner came a little later, Claudio Pizzaro doing the honours.
That's it. Results and tables here. Follow the Bundesbag here.