Created on 18-08-2014 at 14:00 PM
Holger Badstuber was beaming from ear to ear, and no wonder after successfully completing his competitive comeback from a lay-off lasting more than 20 months since the first of two torn cruciate injuries. “I really enjoyed it and we won, so it's a good day,” said the 25-year-old, whose return to action in Bayern's 4–1 victory over third division Preußen Münster on Sunday was one of the emotional highlights of the DFB Cup first round.
Until now Pep Guardiola has only known the centre-back as a fixture on the club's injury roster, but he too was moved by Sunday's events. “We had terrible news in our last match because of Javi, but now we have wonderful news due to Badstuber. I'm so pleased for him,” the coach said. In Martínez’ enforced absence, the Spaniard fielded Holger in his favoured back three alongside Jérome Boateng and Dante.
The defender's comeback lasted 78 minutes, during which he was a solid presence in the rearguard. Warm applause from all sides of the ground, including from a large number of Preußen fans, accompanied his substitution. “He played well. We all saw his quality, his good left foot and his character. He battled away,” commented Guardiola, acknowledging a new option in defence: “It's not easy when you've torn a cruciate and then have to undergo a second round of surgery as well.”
Badstuber’s tribulations began on 1 December 2012 in the home Bundesliga meeting with Borussia Dortmund. Some 20 months later the damaged knee is finally “very stable again,” Guardiola reported. Badstuber himself is bursting with energy. “I'm ready and I'm feeling great. Every training session and match does me the world of good,” he stated, although he knows he must be careful not to overdo it. “I know I still have a long road in front of me. Personally I'm up for it, but the coach and others make the decisions.”
Need for patience
Guardiola appreciates the need for continuing patience. “A torn cruciate always means a long time out,” the Spaniard warned, referring not only to the actual recovery period: “Holger was injured for almost two years!” Nevertheless, the FCB youth product could well start Friday's Bundesliga opener at home to Wolfsburg, because Boateng is suspended due to a red card in the last match of the previous season.
Holger’s team-mates were thrilled to see him back in action. “He's worked hard on his comeback for months,” said Philipp Lahm, “he had a lot of setbacks, so it's even more fantastic to see him back out on the field. We all hope he recovers the form he was in before the original injury.” Up to that point Badstuber was a fixture at centre-back for both Bayern and Germany. Had it not been for his injury misfortune, he could well have been a World Cup winner now by now.
Badstuber is effectively like a new arrival at the club, although FCB are still surveying the market for another defensive specialist to compensate for the long-term absence of Martínez. It remains uncertain as to how long Badstuber will need before he can safely cope with the burden imposed by the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Cup, but once he is fully back up to speed a return to the Germany set up is surely on the cards.