Created on 01-06-2010 at 00:00 AM
The “Schweini” of 2006 has become a more mature Bastian Schweinsteiger in 2010. As the 25-year-old approaches his second World Cup, he is keen to transfer the winning mentality at Bayern to the German national team. “If I’m at a tournament, I aim to win it,” he declared from a South Tyrol training base on Tuesday.
Coach Joachim Löw expects the Bayern star to step in for the injured Michael Ballack as an “emotional leader” and a midfield string-puller, and also as vice-captain, although Schweinsteiger warned he would not seek simply to copy Ballack in South Africa. “You have to create your own profile. It’s no use just duplicating someone else,” he said.
Combination with Khedira
“I’d still have taken on responsibility, even if Michael Ballack had been here,” Schweinsteiger continued, although he is aware that the loss of Germany’s most influential player means a seismic shift in his own position. He is no longer Ballack’s lieutenant, but the lynchpin in midfield. “However, I can’t be the only one taking responsibility,” he advised.
The Bavarian native is currently undergoing a crash course in sharing the holding role with Sami Khedira. “He’s a good player and fits in well,” said Schweinsteiger of the Stuttgart ball-winner, three years his junior and vastly less experienced. “Sami Khedira should play like Sami Khedira, and then he’ll help us.”
Schweinsteiger will earn his 74th cap against Bosnia in Frankfurt on Thursday, a vital test for himself and Khedira: “It's a shame we’ve not had more time together, but this is the one chance.” The Munich man issued a cautionary message prior to the match: “It won’t be the end of the world if it doesn’t go so well.”
Schweinsteiger is keen to reprise his commanding performances for Bayern over the last six or so months, and to rid himself once and for all of the “Schweini” tag he earned as a teenage sensation: “Everyone grows up and develops.” Louis van Gaal has had a major hand in that process after switching the player to defensive midfield last November.
“The days when I dribbled, cut inside and shot at goal are over,” Schweinsteiger declared: “Keeping a clean sheet and winning feels much better these days than scoring.”
The 25-year-old said his first thoughts nowadays were defensive, before later turning to the attacking side of things. “My priority is to keep the team organised.” He and Khedira will be aiming to link the defensive and forward lines. A superb season at Bayern had given Schweinsteiger the “final push” towards become a top-class player, Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff believes: “He’s successfully moved on from Schweini and Basti to Bastian Schweinsteiger.”