Bastian Schweinsteiger (l.) played a pivotal role in FC Bayern München's 2-1 victory over Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Bastian Schweinsteiger (l.) played a pivotal role in FC Bayern München's 2-1 victory over Bayer 04 Leverkusen

More still to come from 'improving' Schweinsteiger

Munich - It would be wrong to say that is back. The truth is, he was never really away.

Still improving

While the 29-year-old may have missed two and a half months due to injury, there was never any doubting the quality possessed by a man who was an inspiration in Bayern's treble-winning 2012/13 season. Indeed it was he who fittingly scored the goal which clinched the Bundesliga title in Frankfurt.

As with with anybody returning from an injury, miracles cannot be expected overnight. Yet somehow when that person is Bastian Schweinsteiger, the normal rules do not apply. His goal against Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League settled any nerves the Bavarians may have had in the second leg of their last 16 tie, prior to his postage-stamp free-kick which proved the winner against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday.

"He's looking great," said Bayern's sporting director Matthias Sammer, one of many to wax lyrical about the midfielder on Saturday. "He's looking very stable physically and his movement is improving all the time." Anyone who thought Schweinsteiger had reached his zenith and would struggle to make it back into Bayern's star ensemble has been forced to think again.

'Worthy leader'

"I'm delighted that things are getting better again," Schweinsteiger enthused. Three months ahead of the FIFA World Cup, both club and country can take pleasure in the technically-gifted midfielder, tactician and tenacious tackler who, according to Sammer "will soon be top, top, top". Against Leverkusen, he was a "worthy captain and a worthy leader", and there was no sign of him flagging in his first full 90 minutes in the Bundesliga since 2 November.

With 1,276 touches in 1,100 minutes of action this season, it is clear how pivotal a role Schweinsteiger plays in the Bayern engine room. On Saturday, he exceeded himself with 152 touches (compared to a season's average of 104.4 per 90 minutes) and 137 passes, of which 93.4 per cent found their intended target.

Getting back to his best

Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement. Schweinsteiger may have won eight tackles against Leverkusen but he also lost seven and he completed just 11 sprints - five fewer than he habitually makes. However, once the Germany and Bayern vice-captain has a few more matches under his belt, those statistics will no doubt change too.

So what is next for Schweinsteiger? With Pep Guardiola spoiled for choice week in, week out, a place on the bench in the coming weeks is not out of the question, nor would that be a problem for the Bayern No31. "I'm still trying to get fitter to get back to my best again," he said at the weekend. Considering his outstanding displays thus far, that is surely an intimidating prospect for Bayern's future opponents.

Not seen Schweinsteiger's awesome free-kick against Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 25 yet? Take a gander on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: