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Rich vein of form

New options centre on Schweinsteiger

Long after the bulk of the squad had traipsed off the practice ground and into the dressing room following Tuesday training, Bastian Schweinsteiger remained out on the field with half-a-dozen footballs for company. The 23-year-old tried out a few free-kick variations before himself heading for the warmth of the showers. “I occasionally stay out a little longer, as the mood takes me,” the player explained. Judged by recent performances, Schweini ought to be in a very good mood indeed

The Germany international has started six of Bayern’s last seven matches, including Saturday’s victory away to Schalke, where he assumed the position he has always described as his favourite: a central, attacking midfield role. “I feel at home there,“ he declared.

Fine performance

The player revelled in the job of accepting balls out of defence and distributing them to his team-mates. A perfectly-timed pass to Franck Ribéry initiated the move leading to Miro Klose’s match-winning goal, but Schweini also impressed when the Reds were not in possession, tackling with bite and tirelessly covering acres of ground.

Uli Hoeneß felt Schweinsteiger had produced “a wonderful display. He did his job extremely well. Schweinsteiger is a real option for the role behind the front two. He got the best out of it today. He’s given Ottmar Hitzfeld something to think about.“

A different diamond

The Bayern boss will not restrict his analysis to Schweinsteiger alone, but may be considering an overhaul of the club’s current system. Bayern have operated with two holding midfielders for most of the campaign so far, but the coach could equally well turn to a diamond shape in midfield with Schweinsteiger at the forward point.

Schweini is no stranger to the job. He played there in the run-up to the winter break last season, when Felix Magath was still in charge at the club, and has also on occasion filled the role for Germany. “I think I’m mature enough for the position now,“ he opined.

Well-spent youth

In any case, the club is aware of the player’s abilities in a central role. He occupied the position in a variety of Bayern youth teams, including the U-19 senior youth side which won the German championship in 2002. “I actually learned the game as a central midfielder,“ he reveals, “and I only moved out to the flank after turning professional.“ He has clearly forgotten nothing since then.