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World Cup 2014 : Bastian ‘Wall’ Schweinsteiger, the Rahul Dravid of German football

Abhimanyu Kulkarni, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 13, 2014
First Published: 03:49 IST(13/7/2014) | Last Updated: 05:07 IST(14/7/2014)

One is a footballer who has made 107 appearances for his side, the other a cricketer with over 24,000 international runs. Both are known for their tireless work ethics and devotion towards the team. Both have been over-shadowed during their prime because of the presence of more 'flamboyant' players in the team.
 
Both have in their respective careers failed to claim the World Cup trophy in their sport. But, that could change on Sunday night for the footballer when Germany face Argentina in the World Cup final.
 
Bastian Schweinsteiger will get his shot, the retired Rahul Dravid won’t.

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 Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates his team's win over Brazil after their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte (REUTERS Photo)

Schweinsteiger is referred to as a defensive midfielder. But a look at any of the matches he has played for Germany or his club, Bayern Munich, shows there are multiple facets to his game.
 
Not only does he fall back to support the back four whenever called upon, he is involved in almost all of the attacking runs. He is popularly referred to as the 'midfield motor' for his non-stop/continuous running. The German dominance in the past three World Cups has been chiefly due to the role that Schweinsteiger has played in the midfield.
 
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Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, left, Thomas Mueller, right, exercise during an official training session(AP Photo)

He has only 23 goals to show from his 107 international games, but these figures in no way reflect what an integral role Schweinsteiger plays. He is a shrewd customer and reads the game brilliantly. He has excellent dribbling skills, ball control, precise passing and good tackling abilities.
 
He started off as a left back at Bayern, but took on a central holding midfielder's role after the entry of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in 2009. Under the then Bayern manager Louis van Gaal, he mastered and flourished in the role.
 
He hasn't been in the best of form in this World Cup, with reports/rumours about tension between him and national coach Loew surfacing up. He did not start the first game against Portugal and only came on as a substitute in the next game against Ghana. He went on to start the next four games against USA, Algeria, France and Brazil.
 
Schweinsteiger is the engine/pivot of the German machine, and they will need him to play a pivotal role in the final against Argentina to have any hopes on lifting the cup. If he can keep Messi at bay, it will be a huge blow to the Albiceleste.
 
If Germany go on to win this World Cup, praise will be showered upon Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Andre Schuerrle — all of whom have scored goals in Brazil. But 30-year old Schweinsteiger will surely not be complaining, much like Dravid, the tireless Wall of Indian cricket.
 
The German is most ‘Dravidian’ in his approach and feats. He has always played for the team, and will give his 100% in a bid to take his side across the finish line on Sunday.


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