Every week at The Center Circle, we are highlighting a different player in a feature we call “On the Spot”. We’ll take a look at superstars, underrated gems, aging veterans, and young unknowns who should be known. We’ll peruse their club and international careers, taking note of their teams, statistics, and highlight reels. We’ll illuminate their strengths and weaknesses and comment on their personalities and reputations. It will be some fun. If there is anyone you want to see “On the Spot”, feel free to comment below.
One of the biggest names in international soccer made the first move of his life this summer. Bayern Munich stalwart Bastian Schweinsteiger decided to take on a new challenege in his career moving to English powerhouse Manchester United. Can he replicate the magic he provided in Munich in Manchester?
Growing up, Bastian Schweinsteiger looked to have two promising career paths in sports. Before pursuing his eventual career in soccer, the young German had the chance to pursue a career in professional skiing. After picking ball over skis, a Schweinsteiger joined the famed Bayern Munich academy and quickly rose through the various youth levels. At just 18-years-old, the youngster made his debut as substitute in one of the team’s Champions League matches.
In his first full year with the senior side, Schweinsteiger started as a left back, but soon made the switch to midfield. The 2002/03 season saw the 19-year-old make 14 total appearances for the German giants, nine of which were starts. The debut season also ended with two pieces of silverware, as Bayern Munich not only claimed a Bundesliga title, but also the German cup. Despite his newfound role with the first team, Schweinsteiger was still splitting his time with the reserve squad as well making 23 appearances for the second team.
2003/04 came with an increase in playing time for the midfielder as he made a career-high 24 appearances for Bayern, but he would have to wait a couple more years before claiming any more major titles. It wasn’t until the 2004/05 season that the 21-year-old and his teammates would claim another league title and another German Cup. During the midfielder’s second double winning season, he would make 31 appearances for the club between league and European competition. The titles kept coming the next season as Bayern claimed yet another double, and the third of Schweinsteiger’s career.
It wasn’t until 2006/07, however, that a 23-year-old Schweinsteiger would truly start to engrain himself in Bayern’s starting lineup. This was the first campaign where the midfielder made over 20 starts for the club and it was also his most productive in terms of goals and assists scoring five times and playing provider six times. Over the next three seasons, Schweinsteiger would help Bayern win two domestic doubles while making over 90 Bundesliga appearances.
The most successful year Schweinsteiger ever had at the club level came in 2012/13. After falling to Chelsea in a dramatic penalty shootout in the Champions League final at their own Allianz Arena the year before, Bayern were able to fight their way back to the final at Wembley and beat out fellow German outfit Borussia Dortmund. Bayern’s domestic success in the Bundesliga and German Cup meant that Schweinsteiger helped the club claim their first ever European treble. In his final two years in the Bundesliga, injuries limited the midfielder to just 43 total league appearances, but he was still able to claim a two Bundesliga crowns and one more German Cup.
Moving to Manchester
One of the biggest storylines of the summer was Schweinsteiger’s departure from his boyhood club to join Manchester United. The move marked an end to the midfielder’s 13-year stint at the Allianz Arena after more than 300 appearances and over 20 trophies to his name. At United, Schweinsteiger rejoins former manager Louis Van Gaal who he worked with at Bayern from 2009-2011. The move to the Red Devils could represent the final chapter of Schweinsteiger’s storied career and he’ll be hoping that it comes with plenty of silverware.
Few players are more beloved by their nation than Bastian Schweinsteiger is in Germany. Ever since his debut for Germany in 2004, the Manchester United midfielder has endeared himself to German fans with his relentless determination and fearless style of play. His first dose of major international competition came the same year as his debut when he was brought into the team’s Euro 2004 lineup. A year later, Schweinsteiger played a key role in the team’s Confederations Cup run scoring two goals as the team finished third.
During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the 21-year-old midfielder would start all seven of the home nation’s games. His best performance of the tournament came against Portugal in the third place game where he nearly scored a hat trick only for the third goal to later be credited as an own goal. The team’s next major tournament, Euro 2008, saw the Bayern midfielder dropped to the bench and things went from bad to worse during the tournament as he received a straight red card during a match against Croatia. Once regaining his starting role, Schweinsteiger managed to make an immediate impact scoring once and assisting twice in the team’s quarterfinal game against Portugal. In the semifinal, the midfielder scored yet another goal in the team’s narrow 3-2 victory over Turkey. A dramatic 1-0 loss in the finals meant that Schweinsteiger’s wait for international glory would continue.
After failing to claim silverware in both the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros, the magic moment for Schweinsteiger and Germany finally came in 2014. After starting the first two games from the sidelines, the 29-year-old soon found himself back in the starting 11. Despite not getting his name on the scoresheet, Schweinsteiger’s influence on the team through his leadership and fighting spirit made him an invaluable part of the German setup. After playing the full 120 minutes in Germany’s dramatic 1-0 victory over Argentina in the final, Schweinsteiger walked up to the winner’s podium with a bruised face and cut under his eye, which almost perfectly summed up his dedication to the team.
The 31-year-old midfielder has established as one of the world’s best defensive midfielders. He usually sits further back in the middle third of the field acting as a pivot between the team’s defensive unit and attack. While on the ball, Schweinsteiger seems to find the smart pass no matter who is around him. Perhaps what endears him to the fans most, however, is his willingness to get involved in tough challenges and 50/50 balls. In the attack, the World Cup winner has a world-class ability to play pinpointed through balls and hit absolute screamers from outside the area. Over the past several seasons, the aging midfielder has been forced to battle injury problems, but if he can stay healthy in England, Manchester United have one of the world’s best on their roster.