Conductor James Rodriguez helps off-key Bayern Munich past Sevilla | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 11.04.2018
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Conductor James Rodriguez helps off-key Bayern Munich past Sevilla

Once regarded as a luxury, James Rodriguez has found himself at the center of Bayern Munich's treble charge. DW's Matt Pearson observed the increasingly influential Colombian in Munich as Bayern reached the last four.

With a first leg lead and a sense that this one was in the bag, a contented flatness settled over the Allianz Arena as a goalless first half ambled towards its conclusion.

But James Rodriguez was having none of it. As the Colombian jogged over to take another Bayern Munich corner, he puffed his chest out, turned his palms upwards and lifted them towards his chest. The crowd responded with a roar that lasted long after the dead ball had floated over those queued up to meet it.

Read morePragmatic Bayern Munich take care of Sevilla to reach last four

Once thought of by some as a luxury gift to Carlo Ancelotti, James has become increasingly pivotal to Bayern, with six goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga to date. His success has come partly as a result of a positional tweak from Jupp Heynckes, who has often shifted his number 10 in to a much deeper berth than the role where he made his name with a series of spectacular displays in the 2014 World Cup and with Real Madrid and Monaco.

Technique and vision

While he's yet to really convince in the Champions League in a red shirt, with just a single assist to show for over 600 minutes of action, Wednesday night offered some evidence that his appreciation of a once-unfamiliar role is growing by the week — as is his importance to this side.

The playmaker has had to add a level of discipline to his game that was apparent in his movement against the Spanish side. Often taking up a position to the left of anchor man Javi Martinez, James was as tidy as you'd expect from a player of his technique and vision while he seemed as comfortable picking up the ball from Mats Hummels as popping up on the left wing to create an overload.

Bayern were on top for large periods of the game without ever finding the breakthrough  and while James was occasionally wasteful from dead balls, he was as impressive as any forward-thinking player on a night where goals just wouldn't come.

Dictating play

But the positional transformation cannot yet be said to be complete. In the spells where Sevilla got on the front foot, there were moments when James' was a little too easy to bypass. The 26-year-old can dictate play from deep, dribble and recycle possession but tackling and heading are significant weaknesses for a central midfielder to have.

Bayern's domestic dominance is so overwhelming that the defensive side of James' game hasn't been of any great significance in the league, with Javi Martinez offering more than enough solidity. And in the end it wasn't of great significance on Wednesday. But to win this competition Bayern may well need to win midfield battles both technical and physical.

In the second half, after another brief wave of Sevilla pressure in which they struck the bar, James sensed his opportunity to get more involved at the sharp end. He almost scooped an audacious ball in to Lewandowski before finding himself a yard to curl one from the edge of the box that David Soria did well to hold. These were reminders of where the Colombian's strengths really lie.

When Franck Ribery was removed for Thago in the final quarter of the match, it was Thomas Müller who was shunted out wide to make way for the Spaniard, a sign of Heynckes' faith in his new conductor.

There will be times when this grand old Bavarian orchestra may require a little more force from their man in the middle but this season, if not this evening, has proved that Rodriguez is more than capable of grasping the baton.

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