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'A worthy leader'

Schweinsteiger close to peak form

Bastian Schweinsteiger is undoubtedly the FC Bayern player of last week. In the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 clash with Arsenal, his important opening goal sealed FCB’s passage to the quarter-final stage. That was followed four days later by a brilliant strike from a free-kick for the second goal against Bayer Leverkusen and the assist for Mario Mandzukic’ opener.

“I’ve been practising that for the last year. I managed to do it a couple of times last season. It was an important goal. It settled everything down,” explained Saturday’s marksman Schweinsteiger, named kicker Man of the Match in both games and not just because of his goals and assists. The 29-year-old midfielder has hit the ground running after his long injury lay-off and he is almost back to his best form.

Not quite there

“I’m glad nothing’s really hurting anymore. It feels better and better,” said Schweinsteiger in the knowledge he is not yet playing at the top of his game. “I’m trying to get back to my previous best. Games like the Arsenal match in particular are really helpful. I’m not where I want to be but I’m happy it’s all going the right way,” the player continued.

That assessment is shared by Matthias Sammer who believes Schweinsteiger is “on the right track. I’ve known him for 20 months now and his whole movement is getting better and better. He looks solid physically,” said the FCB sporting director. “We shouldn’t forget he wasn’t able to train properly after the operation. But it’s all coming together now. And the final part of regaining full fitness comes from training and playing matches,” Sammer added.

'He’ll soon be back on top form'

Schweinsteiger has returned to his slot at the heart of midfield in front of the back four at the decisive stage of the campaign. In Saturday’s match against Leverkusen, he wore the captain’s armband in place of the rested Philipp Lahm. “He was a worthy captain and a worthy leader,” declared Sammer in praise of the longest-serving Bayern first team player. “He’s already very good again. And he’ll soon be back on top form.”

Pep Guardiola obviously hopes that will be the case. The Spaniard has gradually reintroduced the treble winners’ vice-captain to the fray over the past couple of weeks and he has now played the full 90 minutes twice. Guardiola also remembers his midfield general has been out of action for “a long, long time” and that he still needs time. But: “He’s getting a bit better with every game.”