Hoffenheim's fairytale debut Bundesliga season appears to be coming to an abrupt end. After an unconvincing and highly controversial draw at Borussia Monchengladbach earlier this month, they then proceeded to collapse 4-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Friday night.
I watched the second half of the match in a pub downtown, and the German locals seemed pleased that Hoffenheim were being demolished. The locals here are generally Bielefeld supporters, so it has nothing to do with an expected Champions League spot being taken. Germans just don't like Hoffenheim's rise to dominance in the Bundesliga. Who knows what they think of the cash cow that is the Barclays Premier League...
Although Hoffenheim is a team full of talent in every department, their recent loss in form can be attributed to two factors. Firstly, the winter break. This was the last season of the long winter break, as from next season onwards it will be reduced, and I'm sure some teams will be pleased about that. Momentum in form can be kept without being disrupted by pointless training camps and low-key friendlies.
This leads me to my second point. Hoffenheim, I imagine, would have been especially upset with the way their winter break panned out; Star striker and Bundesliga top scorer Vedad Ibisevic suffered a cruciate ligament rupture and will be out for the remainder of the season.
The club's other top striker, Chinedu Obasi, has been out with a small injury for both the draw at Borussia and the heavy loss at home. Hoffenheim will be hoping his return can give them a much-needed boost; Many others in Germany will hope their decline continues.
At the other end of the table, my local team Arminia Bielefeld have had a better start to the second half of the season. A draw with now-top Hertha Berlin at the Schuco Arena was impressive, before a shock 2-1 victory away at Werder Bremen. They were brought back down to Earth by another in-form team, Hamburger SV, at the weekend, but these recent times may prove vital to Bielefeld's survival hopes.
Both teams will be looking to return to winning ways in this week's fixtures, with Hoffenheim at an off colour Stuttgart and Bielefeld hosting lowly VFL Bochum.