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UEFA's original 3rd competition, the Cup Winners' Cup

UEFA Champions League
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 By Mark Lovell

James Rodriguez believes Bayern are Champions League favourites

James Rodriguez has told Sport Bild that Bayern Munich are favourites to win the Champions League this season.

James, 26, has scored four goals and provided six assists in 16 Bundesliga appearances this season, as well featuring in every Champions League game since joining on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid last summer.

"Bayern is my favourite to win the Champions League," James said. "We have a super team with top players. Why shouldn't we win the Champions League?"

The Colombia playmaker also confirmed that he has remained in regular contact with Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo at his former club.

Bayern exited to the eventual winners at the quarterfinal stage last season under Carlo Ancelotti, with James appearing as a late substitute in Real's 2-1 win at the Allianz Arena in April.

Lured to Bavaria by Ancelotti last summer, James endured a difficult start to his time in Germany. The Italian, who signed the Colombia playmaker at Real Madrid as well, was dismissed by Bayern in September, the day after a 3-0 Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain. James was substituted at half-time of the loss to PSG.

However, the 2014 World Cup top scorer has become an integral part of treble-seeking Bayern's recent success under 72-year-old Jupp Heynckes, who has racked up 20 wins in 21 games in all competitions since taking over for a fourth term in October.

James is learning German "two or three times a week" at Bayern's headquarters on Sabener St. in Munich. And he acknowledged the role that Heynckes, a fluent Spanish speaker, had played a role in helping him settle in Germany.

"That [speaking Spanish] has helped a great deal to integrate better into the game," James said.

According to Sport Bild, Bayern pay a loan fee of €6.5 million per season to Real for James -- but the Champions League holders have not secured any recall option on the Colombian international's services. The German publication suggests Bayern are almost certain to sign the player on a permanent deal for a fixed €42 million in 2019.

"I will not veto any option to buy James," Edmund Stoiber, a member of Bayern's auxiliary board said.

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.

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