Stalwart Schweinsteiger’s fitness primary Germany World Cup concern
Midfield general Bastian Schweinsteiger left Bayern Munich’s final Bundesliga match of the season with a knee injury giving Germany fans another scare ahead of the World Cup.
Germany desperately need Schweinsteiger to be fit for the Brazil campaign, but it has been a season of many absences. And noone is giving a guarantee that he will be fit to start the Brazil campaign.
The 29-year-old will celebrate a decade in the Germany team just before their opening Group G game against Portugal on June 16 having won his 101st cap in the 1-0 friendly win over Chile in March.
A defensive midfield shoo-in for club and country, Schweinsteiger’s appearances for Bayern Munich this season have been restricted by a trio of injuries.
Back-to-back ankle surgeries hampered him in pre-season, then in November and December before he suffered an inflamed knee ligament at a training camp in Qatar in January.
He returned with a vengeance on his first full appearance over 90 minutes in mid-March when he curled home a free-kick for the winner as Bayer Leverkusen lost 2-1 in Munich.
He also scored in the 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal in the last 16 as Bayern reached the Champions League quarter-finals 3-1 on aggregate, then netted in their 2-0 league win at Mainz.
Having only played 16 of Bayern’s first 27 league matches, Schweinsteiger gained valuable match fitness in 2014. But Bayern’s defeat by Real Madrid in the Champions League was a psychological blow and the knock to the knee did not help.
“With his class and experience, he has a big influence on our game,” said Germany coach Joachim Low.
“When he is able to play 90 minutes, with his confidence on the ball and tactical awareness, he is very valuable for us.
“Other players respond when they see Bastian is playing well.
“But you can see that he was injured for a long time.”
Schweinsteiger claimed his seventh German league title when Bayern were finally confirmed Bundesliga champions with a record seven games to spare after their 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin.
Bayern captain Philipp Lahm switched from right-back to partner him in the defensive midfield in Berlin and Low could repeat the move in Brazil.
Low is low on defensive midfield options to partner Schweinsteiger with, as Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira struggles with a knee injury.
Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan has not played since August with a back injury and a virus, while Dortmund’s Sven Bender is out with a pelvis injury and also faces a race against time to be fit for Brazil.
Bayern’s Toni Kroos, who has had a stellar season in the attacking midfield role for the European champions, is an option to drop back into the No 6 position or Lahm could be moved across from right-back.
Having broken into the first team as a 19-year-old at Euro 2004, when the Germans failed to make it past the first round, Schweinsteiger played a key role as Germany finished third at the 2006 World Cup on home soil.
He earned the man-of-the-match award with two long-range strikes in the 3-1 play-off win over Portugal and nearly finished with a hat-trick.
When Michael Ballack was injured just before the last World Cup, Schweinsteiger filled his midfield role and when fit, is Low’s first choice in midfield.
He will be at the heart of Germany’s bid to claim a fourth World Cup title in Brazil, providing he avoids a fourth injury of the season.
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Published: May 25, 2014 04:00 AM