Bundesliga

James Rodriguez, Robert Lewandowski and the cornerstones of Bayern Munich's successful Bundesliga title defence

Bundesliga champions with five games to spare, Bayern Munich were in a league of their own in 2017/18.

1) The lock picker: James Rodriguez

bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on the irrefutable cornerstones of the red machine's sixth successive title romp…

Carlo Ancelotti may be responsible for bringing James Rodriguez to Bayern, but Jupp Heynckes takes the credit for giving wings to the Real Madrid loanee's Bundesliga career. His direct involvement in 18 goals does not even begin to paint the picture of a player, who - operating in a deeper central role than he was previously accustomed to – has made Bayern's front line more complete and varied than ever.

James in numbers

    The playmaker scored seven goals and created a further 11 in only 23 top-flight outings.Eight different goalscorers profited from a James assist (Vidal, Robben, Alaba, Ribery, Lewandowski, Müller, Wagner and Tolisso)..James boasted a pass completion rate of 90 per cent.

The verdict: "It's not easy to come to the Bundesliga and adapt as quickly as he has. James is one of Bayern's best players." (Raul Gonzalez, Real Madrid & Schalke legend)

Watch: James' creative brilliance in focus

2) The battering ram: Javi Martinez

Kudos also goes to Heynckes for reinstating Javi Martinez to his preferred defensive midfield role. The Spaniard moonlighted as a centre-half under Pep Guardiola and Ancelotti, but he asserts an entirely different level of dominance when operating in front of the back four. Making the dirty work look like an art form, he has returned a ruthless edge to the Bayern ranks not seen since 2013's treble triumph.

Martinez in numbers

    Under Heynckes, Bayern only conceded 10 goals with Martinez in a deep-lying midfield role - and three of those came after the title was wrapped up.Bayern lost only one of the 15 Bundesliga games that Martinez started after Heynckes returned to the club.The Spain international misplaced just 11 per cent of his attempted passes.

The verdict: "Javi is one of the toughest guys I've come up against in training. He brings something else when he plays in defensive midfield." (Thomas Müller, Bayern forward)

- © gettyimages / PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP

5) The best striker in the world: Robert Lewandowski

Enclosed in a pen of creative genius, it is no wonder Robert Lewandowski topped the scoring charts for the third time in his Bundesliga career. In the process, he also came one strike short of a third successive 30-goal haul for the season. The prolific Bayern striker receives the service dished out exclusively at Michelin-starred restaurants, but has the execution to match. He scores goals which range from the simple to the spectacular – from open and set plays - and is almost never injured. Make no mistake, LewanGOALski is the most complete striker of his generation – the focal point of one of the greatest Bayern teams of all time.

Lewandowski in numbers

    Of his 29 Bundesliga goals in 2017/18, Lewandowski scored 18 with his right foot, six with his left and five with his head. Thirteen came from the flanks.No Bundesliga player fired off more attempts on goal than Lewandowski (124).The Poland international scored at a rate of one in just under every fourth attempt on goal.

The verdict: "There aren't many with Robert's qualities. For me he's one of the three best strikers in the world." (Jupp Heynckes, Bayern coach)

Watch: The first 100 of Lewandowski's 103 Bundesliga goals for Bayern

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Chris Mayer-Lodge