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Saturday, April 17, 2021

What James Rodriguez is doing at Bayern Munich that means the world

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A 15-year itch has set in for Bayern Munich, in just the one season since James Rodriguez was turned into a real Bayern — safe, reliable, even lethal in attack.

Alberto Messina was certainly safe, reliable and sometimes even lethal during his final season with the club. He was there to assist Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery at the club’s second consecutive title before leaving for Sampdoria. With Pep Guardiola away this season for Chelsea, James’s position is not exactly tenuous.

The Colombia international’s hat trick in Borussia Dortmund on Saturday took his tally to six goals in four league matches this season. His attack with Robert Lewandowski (four goals in four matches) and Arturo Vidal has given Bayern’s normally feeble front three a bit of lustre in the Bundesliga, where, as outlined above, they have yet to sign a title with increased frequency.

“James was the third-best player in Europe this week,” said the betting giant BetFred, revealing just how much effect he’s had.

This has, justifiably, taken pundits and pundits like Mark Lawrenson — think Stuart Pearce — by surprise. He described his side as “dangerous”, their defenders “dangerous” and their attack “dangerous.” In short, as an infallible no-nonsense, only 10 per cent chance against side.

Bayern’s attacks haven’t exactly been repugnant, but it’s certainly ominous when a 5-4 against all those who dare offer a suggestion such as Bayern is at risk of becoming a 7-6-5, someone suspected of mental incapacitation after a stay in a psychiatric hospital.

Even in this category, Bayern isn’t alone. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger himself was being credited with scoring 11 goals in four Bundesliga matches before Bayern’s come-from-behind 3-2 win over Hertha Berlin on Sunday. That would have comfortably beaten last season’s worst goal-per-game ratio, when he couldn’t even get on the scoresheet.

Bayern’s current scoring-per-game ratio has not gone unnoticed either. In their previous seven fixtures, Thiago Alcantara scored five goals (which represented a 1.33 goals-per-game ratio) and the returning Muller has scored four. Lewandowski, befitting of his pop-star outlook, scored two and netted his 18th in 20 league matches.

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