​It's been impossible to miss, but just in case you have, the Bundesliga title race is the closest in Europe's top five leagues this season.

Having won the last seven league titles, record champions Bayern Munich aren't running away with it, while Germany's third most successful team Borussia Dortmund - they've won one less title than FC Nürnberg, who are now in the second division - sit just four points off the top of the table.

The prospect of a 10-year-old RB Leipzig lifting the Bundesliga trophy at the end of the season is the worst possible outcome for most German football fans, while Borussia Mönchengladbach, Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen are all within nine points of first place.

Germany's Rückrunde will be more captivating than the second half of the season in any other league in Europe, so a look at how the top six clubs will fare and their chances of lifting the coveted Meisterschale this season.

6. Schalke 04

Allesandro Schopf,Daniel Caligiuri,Suat Serdar,Yevhen Konoplyanka

It might be a bold claim to include Schalke in a list of title contenders on the same weekend they were thumped 5-0 by Bayern Munich, but leaving David Wagner's side out really would be a disservice to their fantastic turnaround this season.

Domenico Tedesco's reign ended badly. The Royal Blues finished just five points above the relegation play-off spot last season and their tally of 33 points has already been matched this campaign, with 15 games still to play.

The one thing that's really stopped Schalke from challenging from the title over the years has always been a goalscoring striker. That's something which can be said for Wagner's team too. But Michael Gregoritsch's arrival this month has already helped in that department and they'll now be hopeful of at least qualifying for the Champions League.

5. Bayer Leverkusen

Kai Havertz,Moussa Diaby

Only just ahead of Schalke in the title race is Bayer Leverkusen.

Die Werkself haven't quite clicked like they did last season, but Peter Bosz's side will be able to move up to fifth place in the table if they pick up a win against Fortuna Düsseldorf on Sunday evening.

Kai Havertz has been a shadow of the player he was 12 months ago, while Leverkusen are still waiting to see exactly what youngsters Moussa Diaby and Paulinho can bring to their first-team squad this season.

Questions about their defence will always be raised for as long as Bosz stays in charge, but Bayer Leverkusen do have the quality to beat any side in Europe on their day and their chances of winning a first-ever Bundesliga title - they've finished as runners up five times - are certainly far from over.

4. Borussia Mönchengladbach

Alassane Plea

Regardless of who ends up on top at the end of the season, Marco Rose will be one of the favourites to win the Bundesliga's Manager of the Season award.

The former Red Bull Salzburg coach only signed four new players in the summer, but Rose's Gladbach have spent most of this season at the top of the table, only dropping behind their domestic rivals in the last few weeks of the Hinrunde.

Last week's defeat to Schalke has prevented Borussia Mönchengladbach from reclaiming top spot, but their match against league leaders RB Leipzig in next week's Topspiel could move the Foals back above the Red Bull-backed club.

3. Borussia Dortmund

Erling Braut Haaland,Jadon Sancho

It's been much of the same for Borussia Dortmund this season, dropping points where they shouldn't and not making use of a squad that's arguably the strongest in the entire league.

They're always in and around the top two, but the arrival of Erling Haaland during the January transfer window could be the catalyst which gives Lucien Favre's side a push to their first league title since 2012.

The Norway international has already scored five goals in just 57 minutes of Bundesliga football and Haaland could easily end the season as the league's third top goalscorer, but it's at the other end of the pitch where Borussia Dortmund's biggest downfall in a potential title challenge could be.

Frailties at the back have already cost them against RB Leipzig this season, while Haaland's heroics have helped to paper over the fact that Dortmund have conceded four goals in just two games in the second half of the season.

BVB are probably just as likely to win the league as they are to miss out on Champions League qualification.

2. RB Leipzig

Timo Werner

Even after a 2-0 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, RB Leipzig are sitting pretty at the top of the Bundesliga. That should make them favourites, right?

Well, maybe not, as Germany's most hated team are actually set to have their most difficult six-month spell in the club's short history.

Julian Nagelsmann's side aren't just leading the Bundesliga and in the DFB-Pokal - they'll face Eintracht Frankfurt in the next round of the cup - but Leipzig are also in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time ever.

They've been chalked off by a lot of English media outlets ahead of their two-legged tie against Tottenham Hotspur, but RB Leipzig could easily progress in Europe's elite competition and then the depth of their squad will truly be tested.

It's a test they certainly could pass, but...

1. Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski

With just one point separating Bayern Munich from Leipzig, Hansi Flick's side are now back on track with their aspirations of winning an eighth straight Bundesliga title.

Their 5-0 win over Schalke on matchday was a real statement of intent from the Rekordmeister and their ability to perform across all competitions could see them leapfrog Red Bull's Bundesliga franchise over the next few weeks.

They'll host the likes of Leipzig, Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach during the second half of the season, with their biggest test away from home coming at Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich have lost in their last two visits to the Westfalenstadion.

And, of course, Robert Lewandowski's form this season will be key to Bayern Munich's chances of reclaiming the Bundesliga title, with the Poland international currently sitting ahead of Timo Werner in the goalscoring charts on 21 goals. 

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