Having picked up 42 points – the second-highest haul at the halfway point of a Bundesliga season in the club's history – and won their Champions League group, the Borussia Dortmund players are given a standing ovation as they depart for a well-deserved Christmas break. The fact their longest-ever unbeaten start to a campaign ended a few days earlier is little more than a side note at this point.
One of the highlights in a sensational first half of the season comes as BVB claim a 2-1 away victory over Schalke in the 153rd Ruhr derby. Lucien Favre's charges, who travelled to Gelsenkirchen a week after comfortably beating SC Freiburg 2-0 courtesy of goals from Marco Reus (penalty) and Paco Alcácer, make a flying start with Thomas Delaney heading home the quickest derby goal since 1999 in the seventh minute. Schalke level from the spot following VAR intervention on 61 minutes, but Jadon Sancho puts the visitors 2-1 ahead in the 74th minute following a one-two with Raphael Guerreiro. "We kept our cool, continued to play football, played even better, had more possession and had more chances," lauds Favre. BVB are now on their second-longest away winning run in their history.
The derby victory over Schalke is followed by a first-place finish in UEFA Champions League Group A! A 2-0 win at AS Monaco sees the Black & Yellows leapfrog rivals Atlético Madrid, who are held to a goalless draw away to Club Bruges. Despite the new-look team – Lucien Favre makes nine changes to the starting XI – Dortmund dominate in the Principality and win thanks to a Guerreiro brace.
Next up, on Matchday 15, is a hard-fought 2-1 home win over Werder Bremen. The result ensures that BVB are winter champions for the fourth time after 1994, 1995 and 2010. In a high-octane Bundesliga clash watched by 81,365 spectators at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park, the Black & Yellows surge into an early two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Alcácer (19) and Reus (27). But the third eludes them and Bremen halve the deficit before the break through Max Kruse. Several opportunities to go 3-1 up against a strong Werder side are squandered after the restart but the hosts hang on for a sixth successive win. Nuri Sahin, who joined Bremen at the end of August, is welcomed back with chants and lengthy applause. Everyone in attendance rises to their feet as the club bid an official farewell to a footballer who played 20,144 minutes across 274 appearances for BVB. Nuri will always be a Black & Yellow!
Borussia Dortmund's longest-ever undefeated start to a Bundesliga season finally ends on Matchday 16 as they are surprisingly yet deservedly beaten 2-1 by promoted outfit Fortuna Düsseldorf. Alcácer is the sole goalscorer for the Black & Yellows. But the disappointment is put to bed three days later as Mario Götze sets up two goals to help Dortmund to a 2-1 home victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach. Sancho scores from an almost impossible angle (42) and, although Gladbach level through Kramer on the stroke of half-time (45+1), the energetic Reus bundles a ball towards the back post over the line in the 54th minute to ensure BVB end the year on a winning note.