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'A special player'

Hard-running, goal scoring Rode

Sebastian Rode’s currently modest list of footballing honours contains just one entry: promotion to the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2012. A new line or two will probably be added at the end of the current campaign, because FC Bayern took another major step towards a 25th German championship thanks to Saturday’s 2-0 success at Hoffenheim. And Rode himself made a decisive and convincing contribution to FCB’s 23rd win in 29 league fixtures.

“I’m very pleased with his performance. Whenever he plays, he plays well. He always helps the team,” enthused Bayern boss Pep Guardiola. The 24-year-old Rode set his side on the way to victory with a beautifully-taken 38th-minute opening goal. “I’m delighted for him. He covered a huge amount of ground, his passing was good and he’s scored a superb goal. We need men like him,” continued Guardiola, “he’s a special player.”

Rode clocked up 12 kilometres at the Hoffenheim Arena, the biggest distance covered of any Bayern player. He was second only to Rafinha with 109 touches of the ball, and he tackled more often than any other player (31), winning 61 percent of his challenges. And although he is a defensive midfielder, his four shots at goal were only bettered by centre-forward Robert Lewandowski. He crowned a commendable display in his 20th Bundesliga appearance for Bayern with his second goal for the club.

Team-player Sebastian

“I’m thrilled I got to play 90 minutes again and scored too. It’s obviously tremendous,” said Rode, whose first goal for the Reds came in the reverse fixture against Hoffenheim. He has also now scored as often for FCB as he did in 61 top-flight outings for Eintracht. “He’s always up for it, he wants to keep on improving and he never complains, so he’s a superb player for me,” Rode fan Guardiola said not long ago.

“Rode is a team player, and all great teams need those. When he plays you always have the feeling he’s on fire for the team, and for himself as well. It’s rarely been the case that you have to try and slow a player down,” sporting director Matthias Sammer told fcbayern.de in a pre-Christmas interview. Since joining the Reds last summer, the midfielder has appeared in 20 out of 29 Bundesliga matches, five of them over the full distance.

“A positive result ahead of Tuesday’s game was much more important than my goal,” insisted Rode as he looked forward to the Champions League meeting with FC Porto at the Allianz Arena. “Winning was the most important thing. Now we’re totally focused on Tuesday, when we need a terrific game.” Rode may or may not make the starting line-up, but he will definitely be ready and raring to go.

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