Created on 21-10-2007 at 00:00 AM
The climate turned sour on Lukas Podolski und Bastian Schweinsteiger this Sunday, as the first snowflakes of the approaching winter drifted over a chilly and damp Säbener Straße training ground. The previous week saw the Bayern pair weathering a storm of a different kind, as the media and senior figures at the club found fault with their recent form. Now, according to boss Ottmar Hitzfeld, Schweini and Poldi have given “the right answer – on the field of play.”
The pair started on the bench in Bochum on Saturday, but impressed as substitutes in Bayern’s fightback from a goal down. “I’m delighted for both of them,” declared Uli Hoeneß, “I saw things we can be pleased about.“
Schweinsteiger on target
Schweinsteiger, fiercely criticised in midweek after Germany’s 3-0 home defeat to the Czech Republic, announced his rehabilitation with the winning goal. “I was satisfied with him,” said Ottmar Hitzfeld, “I hoped he’d come on, give it everything and play some passes. Scoring a goal makes it even better.“
Schweinsteiger hit the target in the Bundesliga for the first time since April. A knee injury saw him playing catch-up in the close season fitness stakes, but he still battled his way to a regular berth at the start of the campaign, only for his performance level to tail off. Hitzfeld reckoned the 23-year-old was “20 or 30 percent“ short of his best, although that figure will have come down after twenty productive minutes in Bochum.
Schweinsteiger was helped by Podolski’s return to form. “Lukas went to the near post and made space for Bastian,” Hitzfeld pointed out. “Lukas played really well for the first time today, he wasn’t trying to hide,” added Hoeneß, “he believed in himself, went looking for the ball and won possession in the air.“
Despite Germany’s wretched display in midweek, Hitzfeld reckoned Podolski had shown “good form, he was one of the bright spots. He was mobile, and the most influential player in the first half.” The 22-year-old forward, still without a goal to his name this term, would be encouraged by the cameo appearance in Bochum, Hitzfeld believes.
Tip from coach
Podolski and Schweinsteiger have set out positively on the road to rediscovering peak form. Hitzfeld offered words of encouragement. “Part of growing as a person is experiencing highs and lows, and learning the right lessons,” intoned the coach, offering a few words of practical advice: “Work hard on yourself, be self-critical and put yourself forward in training.“