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Praise from all sides

Schweinsteiger reserves focus for Spain

Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeneß and the global media have showered Bastian Schweinsteiger with acclaim, but the FCB and Germany man has thoughts only for Spain and midfield wizards Xavi and Andries Iniesta. “I’m not interested in who might be named player of the tournament. I’m only interested in Spain. We want to knock out another big name,” said the 25-year-old, set for his 80th cap in the World Cup semi-final.

Joachim Löw is delighted with his player’s total focus on winning the next match. “Bastian Schweinsteiger has matured unbelievably in the last two years,” the Germany boss said on Monday: “You can see he’s concentrating really hard.”

Leadership quality

Schweinsteiger is emerging as one of the most influential figures in South Africa. Initially cast merely as understudy to Michael Ballack, he is now the ultimate authority figure in midfield. However, his feet are firmly on the ground. “It can only go well if we play well as a team,” he insisted.

However, a team needs leaders, and Schweinsteiger excelled in that respect against Argentina: as pre-match motivator, subduer of Messi, organiser, distributor and provider. “He was outstanding in every respect,” declared Löw. “Looking at all five matches, I think he’s the player of the tournament,” said Beckenbauer. FCB President Hoeneß even feels the 25-year-old has become “a central figure in world football".

Bastian thanks Van Gaal

Schweinsteiger made no secret of his gratitude to Bayern boss Louis van Gaal. “The biggest change has been playing in my favourite position at last.” The likes of Ballack, Zé Roberto, Owen Hargreaves, Jens Jeremies and Niko Kovac previously blocked the central midfield roles in Munich, “but Van Gaal has made me first-choice there.”