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Bastian Schweinsteiger is on the Bus, but Probably as a Spectator

Exciting, yes, but one should not get his or her hopes up.

Lars Baron

Somewhat hard to imagine, how a player so crucial to Germany's first treble champion can have his absence matter so little.

The vice-captain of for both club and country, Bastian Schweinsteiger has followed up his German Footballer of the year season with an injury ravaged one, missing 117 days of competition thus far due to injury. That streak might come to an end, for he has boarded the bus for Bayern Munich's trek north to Hamurger SV.

Exciting news, yes, but the trip might be more of a rehabilitation milestone than a full return.

Looking back on the integration patterns the club has employed, the returns of Thiago Alcântara, Mario Götze and Javier Martínez fell into a much more distinguishable sequence. With several other returns since, player implementation after injury hass much more circumstantial.

That being said, patterns pop up even now when looking at injuries lasting more than a week. There is no omniscient injury predictor, but based on records alone, there exist noteworthy observations.

Name Injury Unavailable Return to Team Sheet Return to Pitch Return to XI
Bastian Schweinsteiger Ankle 18 days 9/14 vs. Hannover 96
9/17 vs. CSKA 9/21 vs. Schalke
Mario Götze Ankle 29 days 9/28 vs. Wolfsburg 10/2 vs. Man City 11/2 vs. Hoffenheim
Javier Martínez Groin 54 days 10/23 vs. Plzen 10/26. vs. Hertha BSC 11/2 vs. Hoffenheim
Dante Ankle 14 days 11/2 vs. Hoffenheim 11/2 vs. Hoffenheim 11/2 vs. Hoffenheim
Thiago Alcântara
Ankle 77 days 11/11 vs. Augsburg 11/23 vs. Dortmund 11/27 vs. CSKA
Diego Contento N/A 25 days 11/30 vs. Braunschweig 12/14 vs. Hamburg 12/14 vs. Hamburg
Franck Ribéry Rib 25 days 12/4 vs. Augsburg 12/4 vs. Augsburg 12/7 vs. Bremen
Xherdan Shaqiri Thigh 57 days 12/7 vs. Bremen 12/10 vs. Man City 12/21 vs. Casablanca
Philipp Lahm Thigh 13 days 12/10 vs. Man City 12/10 vs. Man City 12/10 vs. Man City
Arjen Robben Knee 51 days 1/24 vs. 'Gladbach 1/24 vs. 'Gladbach 2/8 vs. Nürnberg*
Franck Ribéry Ankle 24 days 2/2 vs. Frankfurt 2/2 vs. Frankfurt 2/2 vs. Frankfurt
Javier Martínez Foot 21 days 2/8 vs. Nürnberg 2/8 vs. Nürnberg ??
Daniel van Buyten Back 34 days ?? ?? ??
Bastian Schweinsteiger Ankle/Knee 99 days ?? ?? ??

*Robben missed one match before his next appearance off the bench, shading a full sequence of return

With the caveat that the injuries and squad roles do not equate, the observation that still emerges is with the time-frame of injury. Most players with absences lasting less than four weeks (or literally 28 days) usually take less time to reintegrate into the team. The exceptions are Diego Contento – a well-established back-up defender; Javier Martínez – whose midfield depth position has changed under Guardiola; and Schweinsteiger's first spell after his injury in the UEFA Super Cup.

Conversely, most injuries longer than four weeks have resulted in more progressive returns. The only outlier is Arjen Robben, who after his return was unavailable for the midweek makeup match against VfB Stuttgart. The system above would thus indicate that Schweinsteiger will be just a close spectator rather than a late match option.

That is not necessarily a negative scenario, considering the increased schedule congestion over the next 12 days. Certainly manager Pep Guardiola will want to see what his vice-captain can offer him in a match scenario. The SC Freiburg at the weekend could be a similar situation to do so, which still before the grave Champions League trip to Arsenal.

"We need him," said Guardiola on Schweinsteiger [tz-online]. "Basti was injured for more than two months. He needs time."

Where he will play is an entirely different can of worms, ones that could wiggle the foundation of the current tactical approach. Never to fear, though. Fortunately, that discussion is very near.

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