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James Rodriguez takes baby steps to regaining his starting spot

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James’ split-second brilliance against Espanyol is just what the doctor ordered

RCD Espanyol v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

After a rumor-filled summer, James Rodriguez remained in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid. While the media suggested that the Colombian was eager for a move, James always stayed true to the Spanish side and verbally committed his future to the club.

It’s music to the ears of Madridistas globally. The Colombian boasts extraordinary talent and is undeniably one of the most dangerous attackers on the planet. He’s the type of player that can single-handedly pull his team from the gutter with a split-second of mesmerizing skill. Without superstar teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, James did just that against Espanyol on the weekend.

It’s the type of goal that Real Madrid needed. After sending long-time goalkeeper Diego Lopez side to side, scampering to protect his net for 45 minutes, James snuck a driven shot past the Spaniard. It started with a bit of strength from the Colombian to shrug off one tackle before nutmegging the second defender. If you’re an Espanyol supporter, it’s a cringe-worthy bit of skill from the Colombian who absolutely annihilates Pape Diop's dignity.

Diop then threw up his hands in helplessness, a bit prematurely, because James then doubled his brilliance, slotting his shot past Diego Lopez.

It’s a moment that nearly everyone in Real Madrid’s corner has been waiting for - a sign of life from James Rodriguez. The goal proved to be the winner in a match that keeps the Spanish giants on top of their arch rivals Barcelona in the table. It’s also a goal that could instill confidence in both James and Zinedine Zidane going forward. When Bale and Ronaldo are on the sidelines, Real Madrid need a game changer and James is just that.

The Frenchman didn’t give the Colombian much of a chance last season and stuck to the system that worked (understandably so, Zidane’s decisions won a Champions League title). However, if Real Madrid are looking to defend their title and even claim another this season, James must become a factor. There’s still some kinks in his play early this season, such as his involvement and speed over 90 minutes, but the Colombian took baby steps Sunday evening to regaining a starting spot at Real Madrid.