In The Spotlight: Your guide to a dramatic Bundesliga title battle
The Bundesliga title race is wide open — and there promises to be more twists and turns between now and the end of the season.
Though champions Bayern Munich predictably top the table, their league form has been horribly inconsistent in recent weeks.
With the Bavarian giants dropping points, there are still five other sides in with a realistic shot of being crowned kings of Germany.
Ahead of Matchday 22, we take a look at the most open Bundesliga title fight in years.
Trio level on points
Bayern's lead at the top of the table could not be any slimmer.
After 21 games they have 43 points, but so do second-placed Borussia Dortmund and Union Berlin in third, with only goal difference separating the three clubs.
In fourth place, Freiburg are a mere three points behind the frontrunners. RB Leipzig are very much in contention with 39, while sixth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt are only five off top spot.
The Bundesliga has been criticised for its predictability in recent years, with Bayern having won each of the last 10 titles.
You have to go back to 2012 for the last time another team won the league, when Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund secured the second of back-to-back crowns.
Bayern lost 3-2 at Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend in what was only their second Bundesliga defeat of the season, having last been beaten by Augsburg back in September.
Yet they have drawn seven times, with only FC Cologne being involved in more stalemates in the German top flight this season.
Three of those draws have come in their last six league games, which is largely why the title picture now looks so open.
Since the season resumed after the World Cup, Bayern have been without the services of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who broke his leg on an ill-advised post-tournament skiing trip.
Experienced Swiss stopper Yann Sommer was hastily signed from Monchengladbach as a replacement and was thrown straight into action.
Boss Julian Nagelsmann is said to retain the confidence of the board and his side's recent 1-0 win at Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie suggests Bayern are far from any crisis point.
Dortmund's season got off to the worst possible start.
Sebastien Haller had been signed as a replacement for departed talisman Erling Haaland but he was diagnosed with cancer before he could play a game for the club.
After six months of treatment, the striker was thankfully ruled healthy enough to return to action and scored his first goal for the club in the 5-1 win over Freiburg earlier this month.
Dortmund's form since the domestic campaign resumed has been nothing short of perfection. They have won all eight of their games across all competitions, which includes six Bundesliga victories.
Edin Terzic's squad contains a good mixture of very experienced players such as Mats Hummels and Marco Reus, along with some of Europe's best young stars.
That group includes the English duo of Jude Bellingham and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, with the latter bagging three league goals so far from regular cameos off the bench.
While Bayern Munich and Dortmund are used to competing for the title, this is unfamiliar territory for the other contenders.
Union Berlin, Freiburg and Leipzig are all looking to win the league for the first time, while Eintracht Frankfurt last won the old German championship way back in 1959.
Of that quartet, Leipzig may have the most realistic chance of dethroning Bayern.
They have twice finished as runners-up in recent seasons and their squad contains stars Josko Gvardiol, Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku.
Getting knocked out of European competition could be key to one of these underdogs going the distance, with schedules set to significantly fill up in the weeks ahead.
They will also be hoping Bayern can reach the latter stages of the Champions League and be distracted by the prospect of continental glory.
The holders remain hot favourites, with the talent and experience required to triumph again.
Yet even if they do win an 11th straight title, it is at least a positive for German football that they are now facing a fight for top spot.