Bundesliga champions with five games to spare, Bayern Munich were 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 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)
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
- From the start of the season until Bayern won the title, only Hoffenheim's Kevin Vogt attempted more passes than Hummels in 2017/18.
- Hummels and Boateng's pass completion rate for the season was a heat-seeking 87 per cent.
- Although he played fewer minutes than Hummels, Boateng hit the mark with more long balls and won more challenges on the way to pocketing another league winner's medal.
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
- In 26 starts and three substitute appearances, Kimmich ran, on average, 10.4 kilometres per game - a Bayern best-mark.
- The Stuttgart youth product laid on more goal attempts in this season's Bundesliga than any Bayern player - and he also had 10 assists.
- Kimmich supplied the second-highest number of crosses (109) after Augsburg's Philipp Max (130).
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 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