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Three observations from Bayern Munich’s 3-0 win over Schalke

James’ creativity, squad rotation and rest for Robbery

FC Schalke 04 v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

#1: James Rodriguez was in full flight

When Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti wrote down “James Rodriguez” in his starting XI, it represented a chance for the Colombian playmaker to make sure his name going forward is written in ink, and cannot be easily erased.

Mission accomplished.

James combined with Thomas Muller and Kingsley Coman to form a interweaving attacking trio behind Robert Lewandowski. Muller was back to his Raumdeuter, space-interpreting best while Coman’s pace was without peer. James, however, was the creative conductor as he produced stunning passes that led to big-scoring chances and finally sprung Arturo Vidal for a goal in the 75th minute. Need proof? Here it is:

James, signed on a two-year loan from Real Madrid, also scored first his Bundesliga goal, which was created from Muller being able to find space to apply pressure after a Schalke throw-in, Lewandowski making a cheeky chest pass and Corentin Tolisso taking that pass in space that James vacated in order to make a run that he finished with a tidy shot into the corner.

This is why Bayern made the loan deal for James, to produce these moments of attacking brilliance.

#2: Yes, this is what squad rotation looks like

It’s a packed calendar, and squad rotation appeared necessary, but not exactly expected from Ancelotti, given his previous body of work. Well, squad rotation is here, and if these are the results of it, Ancelotti though a delayed convert to the concept, it’s better late than never. Ancelotti made four changes to the team that throttled Mainz 4-0 on Saturday, and of course, had to deal with the injury to Manuel Neuer.

With another Bundesliga game on Friday at home to Wolfsburg and midweek Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain slated for next Wednesday, Ancelotti needed to rotate. He wisely sat Jerome Boateng, who is not far removed from injury, plus surprisingly both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Rafinha (32) and Vidal (30) were the only over-30 players who saw minutes versus Schalke. If you exclude those two, the average age of Bayern’s players was 25.8 years old.

#3: Speaking of rotation, midweek rest for Robbery worked out just fine

Is this the end of Robbery? Of course not. That’s like asking a turtle to retire from its shell. It should be a sign of things to come for Ribery and Robben, who still have plenty to offer but need to be part of the squad rotation, especially when there is fixture congestion. Expect both players to play Friday versus Wolfsburg before one or both of them return to the bench for the PSG tilt next week. This is Robbery 2.0, still capable of exploiting certain opponents but part of the rotation as opposed to automatic selections. If Ancelotti was waiting for players to step into the breach, they have, which takes the pressure off Ribery (34) and Robben (33) as they age.

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