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Primed for the semi

Schweinsteiger content and confident

Few World Cups have placed such extreme physical demands on the players as the current tournament in Brazil, but Bastian Schweinsteiger is still revelling in the experience. “It's wonderful here and I'm really looking forward to playing Brazil,” the FCB vice-captain enthused in the build-up to Tuesday's clash in Belo Horizonte. “You enjoy your football even more. You drink it all in and make the most of a game like this.”

Schweinsteiger will give his all in the quest to reach the 14th final of his career. The player, who has appeared in two World Cup semi-finals, a final at the Euro and three Champions League finals, believes experience makes the difference. “I'm 29 and you look forward to every big match, especially in a country where the people identify so closely with their Seleção.”

In return, the midfielder is a popular figure with the locals. A cult video clip shows him and Manuel Neuer enjoying the EC Bahia club anthem. Bastian joined Lukas Podolski to pose in Flamengo shirts, and he received a third replica shirt from former FCB team-mate Zé Roberto prior to the Round of 16 tie in Porto Alegre, where the Brazilian still plays for Grêmio.

‘I have one more World Cup in me’

“It's obvious football is the absolute number one pastime here. We've been welcomed with a great deal of respect and joie de vivre,” said the man capped 106 times by his country. “I hope the mood will be the same when we play Brazil, and in fact I'm sure of it.” The mood in the Germany squad could hardly be better, he reported: “It's still great here even after 30 days. We've all picked up a tan and we're still in the tournament. We're enjoying it.”

The midfielder arrived in South America carrying an injury but has started every game since Germany's third match. “Physically I'm feeling very good. I've had plenty of minutes on the field at the highest level and I'm ready to give it my all for more than 90 minutes,” he said, although he grinned as he added a rider: “Naturally I'm hoping we'll win it in normal time.”

If they feature in the semi, Schweinsteiger and FCB team-mate Philipp Lahm would go joint fifth in the Germany all-time World Cup appearance roll of honour on 19 games, level with Wolfgang Overath, Berti Vogts and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. However, Bastian believes he can still add to his total. “I'm 29 and I reckon that's a very good age,” he said, “I definitely have one more World Cup in me if everything goes as it should.” That would give him a chance of closing the gap on record-holder Lothar Matthäus (25 matches), but the more important objective for Schweinsteiger is to emulate the former Bayern captain and win the World Cup at the third time of asking.