Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez has returned four goals and six assists so far in the Bundesliga this season. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Johannes Simon
Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez has returned four goals and six assists so far in the Bundesliga this season. - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Johannes Simon
Bundesliga

James Rodriguez and Bayern Munich eyeing Champions League and treble glory

Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez is not your average footballer. When asked about their aims for a given season, most players are content to fall back on tired, well-worn clichés: "We're taking things one game at a time," they say, or sometimes: "We're not looking too far ahead."

These common refrains are perhaps pleasing to the ears of club media officers, but few others.

That the expectations are greater at some clubs than at others is no secret; it is not just the way of modern football, but rather it has always been the way of football. Accordingly, those who admit to loftier aims rather than simply taking things game by game are a refreshing rarity.

Bayern's James is one of those – and he could not have been clearer when asked about the Bavarians' hopes for the season.

Watch: Check out all of James' goals and assists this season!

"It's been a few years now since Bayern won the treble," he told UEFA.com. "I think the time is right for a club like this to win three trophies again. Of course we're in a position to win the treble. Why not?"

It was 2013, in fact, when Bayern last won the treble – the only time in club history they have completed a clean sweep of the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League. Currently sitting pretty at the top of the domestic standings and into the DFB Cup semi-finals for the eighth successive season, European success will once again be Bayern's yardstick this term, and that means winning old big ears.

The Bavarians' next opponents in Europe are Besiktas, in the round of 16. The back-to-back Turkish champions will be no pushovers, but – given that Bayern could have come up against Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham or Barcelona – they are perhaps the best possible opponent against whom to get back into the Champions League groove after over two months away.

- © gettyimages

"We can win the Champions League this year with Bayern," James said. "We've got so much quality in the squad that we just need to make sure we're all singing off the same hymn sheet. If so, then the trophy we all really, really want might be ours."

The last man to lead Bayern to the Champions League was, of course, Heynckes, who has been influential in helping James to settle into life in Munich – both on and off the field.

The 72-year-old tactician afforded the Colombian a rest for Saturday's 2-1 win against Wolfsburg in order for him to be fresh for the Besiktas first leg – a state of affairs that underlines how important James has become to Bayern's hopes of lifting the trophy.

"I feel really happy here," James said. "That's because I'm getting more playing time and am allowed to play in a way I like ... I'm happy here, and on top of that we have a really experienced coach with unique qualities. He speaks Spanish, too, and that makes things much easier for me."

The expectations at a club of Bayern's stature are nothing new to James, who has represented some of Europe's biggest names since leaving Banfield in 2010. After three years at Portuguese giants Porto, the attacking midfielder moved to Monaco, before in 2014 joining Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League twice, without featuring in either final.

That is perhaps one reason James is chomping at the bit to lift the trophy, and play a key role while doing so: "I'm a player who likes linking up the play and scoring goals.

- © imago