After the international break, the top flight of women's football in Germany returns with a full fixture list and some interesting encounters to boot. Bayern Munich and SGS Essen face off in the battle at the top, though Turbine's trip to VfL Wolfsburg looks to be the most intriguing of all.
Jena hoping to heap more misery of Köln
If nothing else, there should be goals involved in this game. Two of the sides at the wrong end of the league will do battle on Sunday, hoping to pick up a much needed three points before the Winter Break. Jena have been involved in a quartet of four-goal games this season, while losing 8-0 to Wolfsburg and losing out in a nine-goal thriller to 1. FFC Frankfurt. They'll be hoping to keep the goals conceded a little lower this weekend, though another four goals would greatly benefit Daniel Kraus' side.
Things have been even more difficult for Köln, who have found things tough since making it into the Frauen-Bundesliga. Sitting rock bottom with just two points from nine games and conceding three goals, on average, every game, it has been a baptism of fire for the Billy Goats. Anna Gerhardt has been the shining light so far, with the talented teen netting three times. Rachel Rinast has offered some resistance in the back-line, and the Swiss defender is doing her utmost to earn her side some points.
Now with Markus Kühn as boss, the visitors may fancy themselves to kick on from the morale boost and pick up a first win of the season. Jena will be determined to secure a win that would take them a potential seven points clear of relegation, in what will be an interesting watch for various reasons.
Frankfurt finding their form again ahead of Sand visit
It is no real surprise that Frankfurt's improved ability going forward has returned with Dzsenifer Marozsan. The creative midfield star has brought the style back to the Frankfurt side, who have been rocked by the surprise news that Colin Bell has left the club. The coach, who lead them to Champions League glory last year and is a nominee for Women's Coach of the Year, is now off to Norway and will take charge of Avaldsnes.
Sand, as a result, will fancy their chances of securing a result away to the current European champions. They lead the pack behind the four front-runners, and three points on Sunday would lift them above Frankfurt and, possibly, Essen. They'll be hoping to shut out Marozsan, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, Yūki Ōgimi, Simone Laudehr and Mandy Islacker; easier said than done.
After scoring five goals last time out, the Frankfurt attack will be desperate to keep up their scoring form. However, Sand have already claimed victory and a clean sheet against Wolfsburg this term and have every right to be confident of getting a result from the match.
Leverkusen looking for points to pull away from the drop zone at Freiburg
This season's surprise package, Freiburg, are continuing to show the form needed to keep themselves competitive in every game. Only Bayern, Essen and Wolfsburg have scored more goals than the Schwarzwald club, with Lina Magull second in the scoring charts. Their youthful side have adjusted brilliantly after losing Sara Däbritz and Jenista Clark last term, and will be hoping to take advantage of Bayer Leverkusen's rotten run this weekend.
The Westfalen side are third from bottom currently, only two points above the final relegation spot almost half-way through the season. The injury to Turid Knaak has seriously hampered their defensive effort, with the promising centre-half set to miss a large part of the season with a serious knee injury. It has been a struggle at both ends of the pitch this campaign, and improvement will be needed if they are to avoid ann immediate return to the second tier.
Leverkusen's defensive woes are likely to leave Magull and her other attacking players the space and time they need to take full advantage, and allow the league's draw specialists to notch up a win and take them to within touching distance of the top four.
High-flying Essen make the tough trip to unbeaten Bayern
In a clash that pits first against third, Bayern Munich will look to extend their impressive run to eleven games against a well-drilled SGS Essen. The reigning champions didn't let a Champions League exit effect them too much, and can now focus on the league and cup. They are currently five points ahead of nearest challengers, Wolfsburg, but will not take anything for granted given how tight the title race was last year.
Essen have out-performed expectations so far and that is in no small part down to the goals of Charline Hartmann and Margarita Gidon, who account for half of their scoring exploits this term. They've been able to capitalise on Frankfurt's poor form to pull level with them, although it would be an almighty feat for Essen to continue that across the entire campaign.
Despite the goalscoring exploits of Hartmann, Bayern's defence should be able to withstand the visitors' pressure. Däbritz will look to add to her tally this season, with Dutch sensation Vivianne Miedema hoping to kick-start her goalscoring form. Essen could spring a surprise and take points off Bayern, which would only further their chances of putting pressure on the top two.
Hoffenheim keen to bounce back against Bremen
Hoffenheim have enjoyed the proverbial 'mixed bag of results' this season. The Sinsheim side have drawn, won and lost three times but are comfortable in mid-table as a result. After winning a hat-trick of matches in succession and losing just once in their first six outings, it looked ike Hoffenheim were in for a solid campaign. However, a four game winless run has emerged and a heavy defeat to Wolfsburg was the latest blow to an otherwise solid start.
Things haven't been much better for Werder Bremen, who currently occupy the final relegation spot. Like Hoffenheim, they've struggled to find the back of the net with real regularity but several have managed to score twice. Four players have two goals this term, and Stephanie Goddard's contribution is likely to be key to their chances of staying up.
Hoffenheim should be fairly comfortable in this clash, given that they are largely superior across the pitch and Martina Moser's experience in midfield should help them secure the three points. Silvana Chojnowski will hope to show her class and begin to add more goals to her game, and this could be the game for the German to shine.
Turbine travel to Wolfsburg in a bid to get back on track
In what is the stand-out match of the week, even with Essen squaring off against Bayern, Wolfsburg take on a stuttering Turbine Potsdam side. The visitors impressed last season after hauling in 48 points and finishing just shy of the top three. However, this year has been vastly different and they are already well off the pace when it comes to troubling the usual Frauen-Bundesliga title contenders; defeats to Sand, Jena and Leverkusen in the opening nine weeks were particularly surprising.
However, they do have the players to turn things around. Lia Wälti looked in imperious form for Switzerland during the international break, and will hope to bring that onto the club scene. She'll look to find teenage forward Viktoria Schwalm, who has already scored three times this season, and the more experienced Svenja Huth. Wälti also has the support of Australia international Elsie Kellond and Patricia Hanebeck; the latter was at the club when they last claimed the league title.
Wolfsburg are beginning to come into a formidable run of form, after winning their last six games and advancing into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women's Champions League. This will be the first of two meetings within four days between the sides, as they square off in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal. Even with the packed fixture list, the Wolves' squad is full to bursting with international stars including three of Wälti's Swiss team-mates - and they should have enough to see off a spirited Potsdam side.