Created on 23-03-2013 at 00:00 AM
Bastian Schweinsteiger isn't really concerned whether he now has 24 or 23 goals for Germany, but an otherwise routine 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan left a sour taste for another reason, due to the Bayern vice-captain picking up a controversial yellow card. “It was my only foul in the whole game," he moaned, but Greek referee Anastasios Kakos made his decision, and the midfielder now has a couple of days off when he would rather have been working.
Schweini was still grumbling when he left the Astana Arena on Friday night. “I've been out for a long time, so I'd really have liked to played in the return, but I'll be forced to wait again," said the player, who now serves an automatic one-match suspension when the Kazakhs visit Nuremberg next Tuesday.
Stuck on 98 caps
The Germany squad touched down in Nuremberg in the early hours of Saturday morning, and coach Joachim Löw immediately released his vice-captain for the home journey onwards to Munich. In all likelihood, Schweinsteiger's 99th appearance for his country will now have to wait until the new season. After five months out of the national setup, the Bayern star convincingly restated his leadership position within the Germany hierarchy with a dominant 90 minute display in Astana.
Operating in tandem with Sami Khedira, Schweinsteiger drew level with former captain Michael Ballack on 98 caps in a performance full of ideas and organisational skill. Furthermore, Schweinsteiger's goal to open the scoring was an essential contribution to a deserved victory: the midfielder accepted a Mezut Ozil lay-off, shimmied past a defender and volleyed home – although FCB team-mate Thomas Müller applied a faint touch to the shot.
The team comes first
“Thomas got that pigeon breast of his in the way," quipped Schweinsteiger. “But without the deflection, I'm not sure it would have gone in. So as far as I'm concerned, he can have the goal.” As it happened, Müller himself clearly and unequivocally went on to round off the scoring in the second half with his team's third.
In any case, personal success is not Schweinsteiger's priority. “Helping the team is always the most important thing for me," he declared, “I'm looking for the maximum possible success with Germany and Bayern." That means finally lifting an international trophy after a string of near-misses in recent seasons. And for all the competition in central midfield offered by the likes of Ilkay Gündogan, there's no reason to doubt Schweinsteiger will be in the team for his next shot at glory, should the Germans go on and qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as expected.