Bayern ace Schweini refuses to dismiss Dortmund
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
Schweinsteiger says Bayern is close to playing at the level of Barcelona. REUTERS PhotoGerman champion Borussia Dortmund will remain a force to be reckoned with in 2013 despite trailing in the Bundesliga title race, Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger has insisted.
Bayern finished the first half of the season with a nine-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table, with Dortmund lagging 12 points behind in third place, going into the four-week break.
German Cup holder Dortmund travels to Munich’s Allianz Arena in next February’s quarterfinals and with both teams through to the knockout phase of the Champions League, Schweinsteiger insists Dortmund is Germany’s team to beat.
“The answer is ‘no’,” Schweinsteiger told the daily Bild when asked whether Dortmund’s two-year long stranglehold in the league has come to an end.
“Dortmund is a really good team, who have now established themselves in Europe. Even the top teams in the Champions League have had problems with their pressing style of football. And that is good for football in Germany in general,” he said.
Dortmund has not lost to Bayern in the Bundesliga since February 2010 and Borussia hammered its Bavarian rivals 5-2 in the German Cup final last May, but Schweinsteiger says the competition between the two clubs is healthy.
“The rivalry between Dortmund and Bayern raises the quality of both teams and of the national team,” said Schweinsteiger with Bayern having drawn Arsenal in the Champions League last 16, while Dortmund faces Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.
“Perhaps even for teams like Schalke who are also competing at the top. It is great that seven German teams have qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League or Europa League,” he said. “But we shouldn’t just be happy with that. We have to take the next step of winning an international title and I want to be a part of that.”
Bayern suffered heartbreak in May’s Champions League final when it lost to Chelsea and it was Schweinsteiger’s missed penalty in the decisive shoot-out at Munich’s Allianz Arena which helped send the title to Stamford Bridge.
“Us losing the Champions League final still hurts,” admitted Schweinsteiger. “Nevertheless, I must say that there are worse things that happen in other people’s lives. As a sportsman you learn to get up when you’re lying on the ground.”
The 28-year-old said Bayern is getting closed to playing ‘perfect’ football, like Spanish giants Barcelona.
“We have gotten close to the perfect football which only Barcelona had played,” he said. “You can only say you are a true champion when you have beaten Barcelona. That is what we are striving for.”