Gelsenkirchen - "It’s a good weapon to have when someone in your own team can shoot like that," said sporting director Horst Held of new signing Michel Bastos ahead of FC Schalke's clash with Greuther Fürth at the weekend.
And how right he was. Two minutes into the second half and Bastos endeared himself to the Gelsenkirchen faithful just with a moment of dynamism, athleticism and sheer power - three attributes that describe the Brazilian in a nutshell.
"People don’t know me that well yet, so I have to show what I can do," said Bastos confidently after the game. "One of my strengths is having a good shot. The coach told me to practice by myself in training this week. I tried one and it went in - and for that to happen on my debut is obviously very pleasing." The first Schalke player to score on his league debut since Joel Matip in 2009/10, Bastos’ effort was a thing of beauty that left Fürth keeper Wolfgang Hesl dumbstruck and the Gelsenkirchen crowd in awe.
Sadly for the Royal Blues, the result was ultimately a negative one. Fürth hit back to equalise before Nikola Djurdjic won it for the visitors in injury time. However, if the day was a cloudy one for the hosts, Bastos was the silver lining.
Ulilised on the left-wing with Julian Draxler playing through the middle, Bastos was a useful outlet for the team and played his part in both defence and attack. He made 25 sprints, 56 runs and produced four crosses, second only to Jefferson Farfan. He also won 18 tackles, a figure bettered only by midfield general Jermaine Jones.
That he displayed competence in both aspects of the game is unsurprising, though, considering he is a converted left-back. At previous clubs LOSC Lille and Olympique Lyonnais, however, he tended to be used in a more advanced role, part of the reason for his impressive goals record (28 in 107 for the former, 35 in 141 for the latter). With Ibrahim Afellay injured and Lewis Holtby departed, Bastos' versatility will certainly come in handy .
Next up for Bastos and Schalke is a daunting trip to runaway leaders FC Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 21. A monumental challenge indeed, but the kind of match that attracted Bastos to Schalke and the Bundesliga in the first place: “[The atmosphere] is fantastic, completely extraordinary. You don’t find that anywhere else."