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'Getting back to form'

Ribéry provides, Schweinsteiger scores

Football can be really simple at times. A dummy, a pin-point pass, control the ball and shoot at the goal from close range. That was the anatomy of the opening goal in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw between Bayern and Arsenal. It was a joint production of two returnees: assist from Franck Ribéry, goal from Bastian Schweinsteiger.

“It really did me good playing the full 90 minutes against a very good team in the Champions League,” declared a happy Schweinsteiger not just because of his first competitive goal since October but also due to his first full game since the beginning of November. Shortly after that, the FCB vice captain had to undergo a second operation on his ankle this season. He now appears to have fully recovered.

“I’m gradually getting back on form and I’m over the injury,” reported the 29-year-old after the Arsenal game. It was his third start since his comeback three and a half weeks ago, and his first Champions League match since November. His goal was not his only contribution to the FCB team effort. He had the most shots on goal (4) of any player on the pitch.

Ribéry and rhythm

“I need to get fully fit again and I think I’ve got a bit of a way to go until I’m at the top of my game,” said Schweinsteiger, aware there is room for improvement. “He needs training, training and training,” declared Pep Guardiola after the game. The fact the coach opted to play Schweinsteiger in the second leg of the Round of 16 tie in the Champions League demonstrates the value he places in the midfielder, explained Guardiola. “He has character and is strong mentally. Bastian is outstanding. He can play even if he’s not fully fit.”

That also applies to Franck Ribéry. The European Footballer of the Year was sidelined for four weeks in February following an operation to treat gluteal bruising. He was then back in the staring eleven in just four days, scoring a goal in Wolfsburg and providing a model assist for Schweinsteiger against Arsenal. “Perhaps I’m not at 100 percent fitness but I’m slowly getting my rhythm back,” said Ribéry after the game against the Gunners.

Like Schweinsteiger, Ribéry was a key player for Bayern and he set up the most goalscoring chances (3). The French international has been involved in 14 goals (7 goals and 7 assists) in the last eleven Bundesliga games. If Ribéry and Schweinsteiger stay fit and healthy they could provide Bayern with added punch in the coming weeks. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge shares that assessment as he mentioned recently in an interview with fcbayern.de: “We need him [Schweinsteiger] to help us achieve our targets. The same goes for Franck Ribéry. He poses a real threat to any opposition defence.”

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