Munich - As heartbreaking as losing last year’s UEFA Champions League final on home soil was for everyone involved at FC Bayern Munich, the lasting image of that defeat to FC Chelsea was of an inconsolable , face buried in his shirt after missing his decisive spot-kick.

Fast-forward 12 months and the 28-year-old cuts a different figure entirely. Seven Bundesliga goals and three assists are noteworthy returns for a deep-lying midfielder, but they only tell part of the story.

Best in the world


Jupp Heynckes has described him as “the best midfielder in the world” and the “brains of the Bayern team”. Considering the swathe of stars that line-up alongside the 98-time Germany international each week, that is an astonishing remark from a famously restrained coach.

Yet Schweinsteiger, while visibly flattered, never loses his focus at the club’s media day ahead of this year’s Champions League final: “It’s nice he would say that about me, but my objective is not what people say, but on winning with the team.” It is a mantra Schweinsteiger returns to frequently and he freely admits the pain of losing the 2012 continental showdown has spurred him on this term.

Source of inspiration


“It motivated me a lot this season and it’ll be the same going into the final. I don’t think it’ll be a particular [psychological] disadvantage for us or much of an advantage for Borussia Dortmund. But it’s definitely a big motivation,” Schweinsteiger said.

“Reaching the Champions League final is not something you can take for granted,” he continued. “Neither is getting past teams the way we’ve done. We know that people will view us as favourites but Dortmund won the league the previous two years and also the cup, so they’re a very good team. A lot can happen in a game, but we’ll be very focused working towards the match.”

Penalty taker?


Schweinsteiger remained refreshingly open when asked about the changes at the club over the past year that has catapulted the side onto a higher plane: “Compared to the past finals we’ve played in, every single player in our squad could do the job for us. We have a better group of players now and that’s been evident in the Bundesliga. We’ve achieved things nobody has ever done before.

“It’s been a huge advantage for me to have been healthy and injury-free this season,” Schweinsteiger added. “That’s the most important thing. We haven’t had that many injuries, apart from and , and that’s a big difference compared to last year.”

So great is his confidence now that even the nightmarish memories of the 2012 final no longer haunt him. With 11 days until the decisive showdown, questions about a penalty shoot-out are met with a smile and a shrug: “If it comes to that we’ll try to score them, but we want to win it in 90 minutes.”

Jonathan Stockitt reporting from Munich