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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

James Rodriguez seeks inspiration from Ancelotti reunion

Reuters , Tuesday 11 Jul 2017
Real Madrid's James Rodriguez celebrates a goal 6/04/17 Reuters

The image of a distraught James Rodriguez being consoled by Brazil's David Luiz after a brutal World Cup quarter-final defeat in 2014 still resonates today.

Rodriguez had given everything for Colombia, scoring six times - including the goal of the tournament against Uruguay - inspiring his country to the last eight for the first time.

Shortly afterwards, Rodriguez became Real Madrid's latest "Galactico" and the fourth most expensive player in the world.

Yet, as is often the case at a club with the highest of expectations, things did not quite work out for Rodriguez at Real and the 25-year-old joined Bayern Munich on Tuesday on a two-year loan deal.

It went well initially in Madrid, with Rodriguez providing the ammunition for Cristiano Ronaldo to break many scoring records.

Rodriguez created six goals for Ronaldo in his first season at the Bernabeu and despite breaking his foot the Colombian scored 13 goals and contributed 13 assists in an impressive debut campaign.

"He has surprised all of us," then Real manager Carlo Ancelotti said at the end of Rodriguez's first campaign. "He is a top-quality player and has gelled very well with the team.

"He has gotten used to playing in a deeper role which requires him to cover more ground. That is what has surprised me most. Others need more time to get used to this playing style."

But things started to go wrong with the arrival of Rafa Benitez as Real boss. Rodriguez was in and out of the team, causing friction between the two men.

When Zinedine Zidane replaced Benitez in 2016, things did not improve and an 11th European Cup triumph seemed to justify the Frenchman's decision to leave Rodriguez on the sidelines.

Last season, Zidane continued to use Rodriguez fleetingly, but this did not diminish his effectiveness. Despite only starting 13 games and making nine substitute appearances, in a variety of positions, Rodriguez averaged more key passes per game than any of his team mates.

Bayern also have an embarrassment of attacking riches, but no real recognised number 10. Thiago Alcantara and Thomas Mueller have been deployed just off the striker, but both are more effective elsewhere.

Linking up again with Ancelotti, who favours deploying a deep-lying forward, could be the spark Rodriguez needs to replicate his form in his first season in Madrid under the Italian.

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