Bundesliga champions with five games to spare, Bayern Munich have been in a league of their own in 2017/18.
bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on the irrefutable cornerstones of the red machine's sixth successive title romp…
1) The lock picker: James Rodriguez
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 six goals and 10 assists do 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 has scored six goals and created a further 10 in only 19 top-flight outings.
- Seven different goalscorers have profited from a James assist (Vidal, Robben, Alaba, Ribery, Lewandowski, Müller and Wagner).
- On average, the Colombian sets up a goal attempt every 22 minutes - a Bundesliga high.
- James boasts a pass completion rate of 89 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 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 have only conceded seven goals with Martinez in a deep-lying midfield role.
- Martinez wins 57 per cent of his attempted tackles, but 70 per cent of his aerial duels.
- The Spain international has misplaced just six 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)
3) The quarter-backs: Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels
Tearing up the defender's rulebook and underpinning the Martinez effect, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels collectively form the most accomplished central defensive partnership in world football today. Not only do they win the lion's share of their attempted challenges; they also recycle possession with Guardiola-imparted precision, pick out the sort of long-range balls normally reserved for NFL quarter-backs and chime in with the odd goal.
Hummels and Boateng in numbers
- Only Hoffenheim's Kevin Vogt has attempted more passes than Hummels this season.
- Hummels' pass completion rate is a heat-seeking 90 per cent; Boateng is not far behind with 87 per cent.
- Although he has played fewer minutes than Hummels, Boateng has hit the mark with more long balls (180 to 141) and won more challenges (67 per cent).
The verdict: "I'd never say I'm on the same level as [Boateng and Hummels], but they're a massive help to me. They're two of the best defenders in the world." (Niklas Süle, Bayern defender)
4) The new Philipp Lahm: Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich is another defensive touchstone schooled the Bayern way. He's not escaping comparisons with predecessor Philipp Lahm, but that's because he's so darn good. He defends as if his life depends on it, and overlaps in the wider areas in an effortless manner not too dissimilar to David Alaba on the opposing flank. With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery for company, Kimmich is successfully upholding Bayern's standing as the undisputed kings of the wings.
Kimmich in numbers
- Kimmich runs, on average, 7.27 miles per game - a Bayern best-mark.
- The Stuttgart youth product has laid on more goal attempts (63) in this season's Bundesliga than any Bayern player and is level with James for assists (10).
- Kimmich has supplied the second-highest number of crosses (94) after Augsburg's Philipp Max (113).
The verdict: "Joshua Kimmich is one of the biggest talents I've seen in the last 10 years. He's got a massive career ahead of him." (Joachim Löw, Germany coach)
5) The best striker in the world: Robert Lewandowski
Enclosed in a pen of creative genius, it is no wonder Robert Lewandowski is on for 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 26 Bundesliga goals so far this season, Lewandowski has scored 16 with his right foot, six with his left and four with his head. Eleven have come from the flanks.
- No Bundesliga player has fired off more attempts on goal than Lewandowski (108).
- Lewandowski scores at a rate of one in just under every fifth 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