Bayern: Return of Schweinsteiger is key
Bayern Munich are confident that Bastian Schweinsteiger is nearing full fitness for the run-in of their 2013-14 campaign, while Matthias Sammer believes that the Germany midfielder will be 100 percent fit for the World Cup in Brazil.
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The 29-year-old had to wait 110 days for his comeback to Bayern's starting lineup against Hannover on Sunday following two ankles surgeries in 2013, the second of which was in November.
Schweinsteiger impressed on his return with an assist for Thiago Alcantara in the 4-0 victory, and the Bayern hierarchy are relieved the player is back for the crucial period of the season.
“Bastian [Schweinsteiger] is Bayern through and through,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club’s official website. “I’m glad he’s available again at this crucial phase of the campaign.”
The club’s sporting director Sammer echoed Rummenigge’s words in an interview with Bild: "The fact is that he is a leader, regardless of his state of fitness. He is the leader alongside Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer.
"He now needs to get fully fit, and use every training minute and every minute on the pitch to get into the shape we all want him to be in,” Sammer continued. “That might take a week, but could also take two or four weeks.”
After a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Schweinsteiger stated he wants to achieve great things -- first with Bayern, then with the German national team this summer in Brazil.
“We’re not going to Brazil for a holiday,” Schweinsteiger told the club's website. “I want to help Bayern retain the Champions League title before that. No other team has managed that and that’s pure motivation for me,” he added.
There was more good news for the European champions on Tuesday as Xherdan Shaqiri returned to training with the ball ten days after suffering a thigh injury against Freiburg.
“I’m OK again now and my thigh’s not giving me any trouble,” the 22-year old Switzerland international was quoted as saying on the club's website. It is expected that the midfielder will return to team training this week.
Bayern hold a 19-point lead in Bundesliga, and could become the first team to win the German title by March. On the first day of what could be a historic month for the club, the champions-elect entertain FC Schalke at home before travelling to in-from VfL Wolfsburg the week after.
Guardiola’s men have also qualified for the semifinals of the German cup and are in control of their Champions League last-16 tie against Arsenal, going into the return leg with a 2-0 lead.