Player ratings: James Rodriguez steals the show at Leverkusen
ratings
Player ratings: James Rodriguez steals the show at Leverkusen

James Rodriguez sealed a well-deserved 3:1 win at the accursed Leverkusen ground for the Reds, impressing with a fine performance to begin the year with an impressive team performance.

Excellent

James Rodríguez

Free-kick 101.

Go watch that kids, drink it in. That’s how you take a free kick.

James’ second goal for Bayern was always around the corner, but it came in otherworldly fashion. He dinked the most amazing free kick you’ll see in a while in a way that made it look so easy, and calculated. He had a very productive game today, although much of it went under the radar. He was involved in most of the team’s attacks, and created the chance that led to the second goal. His set-pieces yielded problems for the opposition defense almost every time (especially the last!), and his passing was world-class.

Thank you, Madridistas!

Great

Arturo Vidal

Good shift from Arturo, that. He was key in the first half especially in controlling the game in Bayern’s favour. He slid in for the right tackles, won possession multiple times, and assisted the attack when he had to. I was impressed with the passion he displayed, as he fought for every ball and made the opposition midfield struggle to play comfortably. This is what we are paying to see.

Javi Martínez

Along with Arturo Vidal, Javi Martínez tamed Bayer Leverkusen’s enthusiastic attack with a composed and organized display in midfield. He reduced the work load on Jérôme Boateng by holding the midfield role with accurate passing and strength. He scored a good goal to top that up in the first half after good awareness in the box during a corner.

Oh, lest I forget. His celebration also suggested that he’s the latest member of the Bayern Dad Conglomerate.

Good

Niklas Süle

I’m glad to finally start the year with a trio of centre-backs who can help the team secure results in most games. Niklas has stepped up his game to be reliable enough to shut down many opponents. He contributed more than Boateng did, perhaps, to Bayer Leverkusen having no shots on target in the first half. He cut out numerous crosses and was comfortable on the ball, even with the high press of the opposition.

He was beaten by Leon Bailey’s brilliant play in the second half that hit the crossbar, but all in all, he did good with a vital block on Kevin Volland’s shot in the 61st minute that would have given Ulreich work on his hands

Franck Ribéry

New contract?

No. Not yet, settle down. Ribéry was having a very, very dull game until James Rodríguez led a counterattack in the 58th minute and fed him with a pass for him to score a much-needed goal. That goal was critical because firstly, it gave the team a good cushion and also, Franck needed that for his confidence. The goal was a great sight because it reminded us of what the Frenchman can do at the top of his game. I pray that really serves up his morale to play much better offensively this year. His winning the ball numerous times shows his defensive game is still encouraging.

Average

David Alaba

He was quick to get back and help the defense deal with Leverkusen’s counterattacks. He effectively imposed his presence on his flank, which led to very few chances being built up from the left. Other than that, he was a bit sloppy in passing, and his famed chemistry with the struggling Franck Ribéry did not yield anything noteworthy.

Sven Ulreich

Sven had a relaxed game mostly, as the Leverkusen attack were mostly kept quiet in the game. He was highly unlucky in the second half to concede a goal, after Kevin Volland’s strike took two (!) deflections off Javi Martínez, and then Niklas Süle. I wasn’t even critical of anyone after that goal, two deflections for one seemingly innocuous shot is just nothing short of ridiculous. He was rock-solid in his post after that, though.

Thomas Müller

Thomas was mostly missing in the first half, with only a few touches of the ball. Much to my surprise, he started in the striker role ahead of Sandro Wagner, who was widely expected to replace Robert Lewandowski for his first start. Müller struggled to contribute much to the game, and he picked up a booking after a late tackle in the Leverkusen box.

Jérôme Boateng

Boateng had a quiet game but basically did his job along with Niklas at the back. Bayer Leverkusen were restricted to the occasional counterattack, as they struggled to create chances. His presence was solid enough to nullify the threat of Kevin Volland. He even put in an insane block in the 75th minute from a Volland shot to cancel what would surely have been the equalizer for Leverkusen.

Rafinha

Rafinha struggled to impress on the night, even though he didn’t do badly. He had the tough job of marking Leon Bailey, and for the most part he did a decent job, albeit he lost his man on occasion. Nonetheless, he helped keep good shape at the back, but cohesion with Arjen Robben in attack was absent going forward.

Arjen Robben

Robben achieved very little worth talking about, after a couple of blocks prevented him from cutting inside… and well, you know the rest. He was subbed off for Coman in the second half. He needs more game time, I suppose.

Bad

None.

Not rated

Starke, Bernat, Rudy, Tolisso, Coman, Kimmich, Wagner

Red Odyssey