Bundesliga.com was fortunate enough to have James Rodriguez sit down for another interview to talk more about his time at Bayern Munich thus far, Jupp Heynckes’ influence, the no. 10 role, and more. After a slow start to his first campaign with Bayern, James has hit a positive stride in recent weeks and has looked rejuvenated under Heynckes. Having received a plethora of opportunities with various injuries to the likes of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Kingsley Coman, and Thomas Muller, the Colombian international has grown into the squad and looks more comfortable with each shift he’s put in.
He’s found the back of the net twice and provided three assists across all competitions thus far from a total of 13 appearances, including 6 starts, 5 of which have been since Heynckes took charge.
Not a bad rate for goal contributions at all!:
Bundsliga | James Rodriguez has been flying high for Bayern Munich in recent weeks, with a direct hand in a goal once every 66 minute's he's played. pic.twitter.com/hUfXAkV3rn— Bayern mania (@Bayern_mania) November 20, 2017
His slow start spiked speculation that he wouldn’t quite be able to adjust to the style of play in the Bundesliga, but he insists that he’s always known of the high expectations at a prestigious club like Bayern, and there’ve been no surprises:
Bayern are a huge club. They’re used to fighting for titles here, as was the case with my previous team [Real Madrid]. I expected Bayern to be exactly like that, so nothing has surprised me in that regard. Everyone involved with the club behaves in a way you’d expect of a club at the top of its game. There’s nothing more to say. Bayern are a 10 out of 10 club.
Coming from a massive club like Real Madrid, James is no stranger to immensely raucous atmospheres, and admits that the Bundesliga produces atmospheres equally as electric, if not more intense, than what he’d grown accustomed to in La Liga:
The pressure is always there. But I think that, once you’re out on the pitch, that gets released. You’re so focused on what you have to do, that you don’t notice everything that happens around you. Anyway, it's a great league, and I enjoy seeing the stadiums full and the party atmosphere during the games.
I'm learning [German] (laughs)! I think I've already taken about 10 or 15 classes. I learn things every day. But it’s a very difficult language. But I always say that when you play football, and you do it well, it doesn’t matter if your teammates speak Chinese or French. If you play well, the rest is easy.
Tactically, James is at his best in a central attacking midfield role, though he has also been deployed as both a wide midfielder, and even once as a false 9 in the Champions League versus Celtic when Robert Lewandowski was out injured. The no. 10 role, he admits, has always been his preferred position throughout his career, though many top clubs are utilizing different midfield formations that eliminate the natural no. 10 role:
I think there are no more No. 10s left in the world. When I arrived at Porto [James signed for the 27-time Portuguese champions from Banfield in 2010], they told me clearly: "We know you’re a classic 10, but here you’re going to play as a forward.” From that moment, I started working as a "false 9", also running towards the center. Eight or 10 years ago it was different, because attacking midfield was a regular position. Today, those who have a 10 on their back are normally center-forwards or complete midfielders. Football today is tactical and very physical, with no place for No.10.
Looking forward, thankfully James has recovered well from the concussion he sustained in the 2-1 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach after colliding with Tony Jantschke in the first half. He admits that he was temporarily unaware of the 2-0 scoreline at the halftime break, but medical assessments after the fact determined that it was nothing serious and he insists that he’s feeling much better.
A look at some of James’ best highlights in a Bayern shirt thus far: