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'It'll be a great second half of the season'

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'It'll be a great second half of the season'

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:00 pm

At the age of just 27, FCB vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is the longest-serving player at the club. The midfielder was promoted to the first team in 2002, and has already passed 350 competitive appearances in a red jersey. However, the man capped 90 times by Germany has missed nine matches this term after fracturing a collarbone, and has just 11 Bundesliga outings to his name. With the year fast drawing to a close, Schweinsteiger talked to at length about the last 12 months. In the second part of our exclusive interview, Schweinsteiger discussed his personal highs and lows, his promotion to vice-captain, the factors which make Bayern unique, and the pursuit of three trophies. "I'm 100 percent convinced we'll have an excellent second half to the season," the player summarised.

Bastian, turning to your personal situation, you broke a toe and fractured your collarbone this year, two relatively serious injuries. How would you sum up the last 12 months?
I can't say I played well in a year with no trophy. I demand and expect a great deal from myself. And I'm one of the captains now, so I have to keep an eye on how we're doing as a team.

In recent months, Jupp Heynckes has frequently compared you with Barcelona stars Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Are you flattered by that?
They're both terrific players, no question about that. But I regard myself as a little bit different, especially in physical terms. I do win a few balls in the air, simply due to my physical stature. And I also come up with different solutions compared to them. But obviously, I know what Jupp is trying to say.

In the away meeting with Mainz back in February, you scored your first-ever headed goal in the Bundesliga. Was that a special moment?
It certainly was! It was definitely about time. In the weeks running up to that, I hit everything with headers, but I didn't score. It finally happened for me in Mainz, and I'm hoping to add the occasional headed goal from now on.

Former captain Mark van Bommel left the club last winter, which meant you were promoted to the job of number two captain.
I'm happy to take on responsibility. We lost a big personality when Mark left, but the responsibility is now shared on several sets of shoulders. I learned a great deal from Mark, I had a good relationship with him and we had a terrific understanding. Obviously, Philipp Lahm and I have a special role within the team, but we have a number of players prepared to state an opinion and take responsibility. There's a certain hierarchy.

You've grown up at Bayern, and you know the club like the back of your hand. How difficult is the settling-in process for players who come in from outside?
These players swiftly take on board how things work at Bayern, and how we train. There can be no passes played behind your man, the ball has to be played perfectly so as to maintain momentum. The absolute priority is winning, but there has to be good football for the fans as well. Players who sign for Bayern must be up to these requirements.

Looking ahead to the future, the Bundesliga title, Champions League, DFB Cup and European championship trophies will all be handed out in mid-2012. With Borussia Dortmund completely out of Europe, do they have a slight edge?
I'd actually say they have a big advantage. I was hoping they'd still be in the Champions League, which would also have been immensely important for German football.

Which trophy would you like the most?
That's hard to say, because all four are desirable. If I was forced to pick one, I'd say the Champions League. It's my personal priority, because I've yet to win it. Of course, Euro 2012 will be another massive highlight. And there's no question I want to win the league and cup.

The Champions League final takes place in Munich. As Uli Hoeneß recently mentioned, is that in fact slightly dangerous?
I'd say it's more of a motivating factor. But there's still a very long way to go. We'll need a little bit of luck, even though I hate falling back on fortune. In the first instance, we have to beat FC Basel. If we play to our potential and quality, we'll go through. But then you start facing the likes of Barcelona and Real. Those are always extremely tight games which can go either way.

Speaking of FC Basel, you yourself have generally performed very well at St Jakob Park in the past.
Indeed, I've always enjoyed my visits to Basel. I scored against Turkey and Portugal there at Euro 2008. And I even managed a brace last season away to Basel in the Champions League group phase. So I'm looking forward to going back. It's a terrific stadium.

Finally, what's your gut feeling? Will 2011/12 rate as a successful season for Bayern Munich?
Provided we stay as focused and keep it as tight as we have done for long stretches so far, we'll be a long way down that road. But we need to work on dominating matches for the full 90 minutes. Twelve consecutive games without conceding a goal was very good indeed, and that should be our benchmark. I'm 100 percent convinced we'll have an excellent second half to the season.
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