Cologne - For anyone wondering if and how FC Bayern München can improve over the course of the second half of 2014/15, look no further than returning star .

A long-standing ankle complaint meant the defending champions' fabled 'midfield brain' had to wait until 22 November to make his 2014/15 debut, but his subsequent displays suggest he is now well on the way to regaining the kind of form that helped Germany to a fourth FIFA World Cup crown in Brazil last summer.

'Big games'

"I feel good and I'm in a position where I can now perform at a similar level to at the World Cup," the 30-year-old affirmed. "I think I've got another three-four years in me at this level. I hope we'll have some big games in the Champions League and also be challenged in the Bundesliga."

Schweinsteiger might just get his wish as he prepares to lead the 23-time Bundesliga champions out at VfL Wolfsburg's Volkswagen Arena in place of injured captain Philipp Lahm next week. Bayern went in at the winter break a record 11 points clear of the second-in-the-table Wolves, for whom only a win will do if they're to stand any chance at all of pegging back the men from Munich.

'A fantastic midfielder'

The Kolbermoor-born headliner goes into the Rückrunde with just six league appearances under his belt so far this term, albeit with Bayern victorious in every one of them. He grabbed an assist in his first outing of the campaign at home to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and netted his first goal in almost eight months at 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 17, but of all his immeasurable qualities, it's his incomparable on-field presence the Bavarians arguably miss the most when he's not around.

"I know how important he is for the club, for the fans," said head coach Pep Guardiola of his returning star. "It's like we've got a new player. He's a fantastic midfielder. "Something tells me he's going to have a really good second half of the season."

Check out Schweinsteiger's best goals on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: