The votes are in, and Bayern Munich’s James Rodriguez has taken the honors for the Bundesliga’s goal of the month for January per the league’s. James’s stunning free-kick in the dying minutes vs. Bayer Leverkusen on match day 18 aided Bayern to a 3-1 win to kickoff the Rückrunde—where James also provided an assist for Franck Ribery’s goal (2nd of match) vs. Leverkusen.
James’s strike beat out a handful of worthy contenders, among them Leon Bailey’s sensational back-heel vs Hoffenheim and Maximilian Arnold’s (Wolfsburg) physics-defying free kick vs. Eintracht Frankfurt.
As an added bonus, James has also been voted Bayern Munich’s player of the month for January, justifiably so—he has had a fantastic month.
See James’s free-kick again for yourself:
A thing of beauty from James Rodriguez! https://t.co/BB0LH6bjvT— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) January 12, 2018
Since the Leverkusen match, James has scored once (vs. Mainz), and provided two assists (vs. Werder Bremen), taking his season (league) tally to 4 goals and 6 assists. He’s been one of the most improved players under Jupp Heynckes and has become one of the most consistent outfield players to be included in the starting lineup; only Robert Lewandowski has started as many matches as James since Heynckes took charge (11 times).
Heynckes the key for unlocking James’s success
Heynckes’s arrival seems to have kick-started James’s performances. The veteran manager has been utilizing the Colombian in his best position: as the most advanced of the midfield three, just ahead of the two holding midfielders, usually Javi Martinez and Arturo Vidal. In that role, James is able to assume a play-making role and showcase his excellent passing vision, linking defense to attack. His intelligent ability to get forward, but also track back at the right times makes him a perfect fit in the role that Heynckes has given him.
James’s spatial recognition was right on queue for the goal he scored against Mainz. Timing is everything with the run he made into the box, and he measured it to perfection:
There's more to this @jamesdrodriguez beauty than meets the eye We've analysed it #M05FCB pic.twitter.com/RPE98Y6REr— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 7, 2018
Heynckes has also gone the extra mile to help acclimate James to life in Munich, as he’s been helping the Colombian learn German. Heynckes is well versed in Spanish himself, which helps bridge the learning gap for his prized midfielder. He’s labelled James a “smash hit” at Bayern, but also admitted that there’s plenty of room for improvement. At this rate, that’s exactly what Bayern fans want to hear from Heynckes in the hopes that the Colombian can continue to bolster the club’s fortunes in search of another treble.