Schweinsteiger future unclear after Euro loss

Bastian Schweinsteiger being exhausted to the point of barely being able to move is becoming a feature of Germany's conclusions to major tournaments but unlike the 2014 World Cup, Euro 2016 had no happy ending for the midfielder.

Schweinsteiger had defied sceptics and, seemingly, his own body to play a crucial role in Thursday's 2-0 semi-final defeat to France but sadly for him and Germany, this main contribution was conceding a penalty from a corner in first half injury time.

"I don't know if it was a penalty," coach Joachim Loew said. "If you see how he approached the ball, it touched his hand, but it was bad luck."

“There is nothing to blame him for, but with the hand up there, you can say it shouldn't be there. There are movements and you can't control them."

That the penalty award is still hotly disputed despite television pictures showing the ball clearly striking his hand shows just how marginal the decision was. Jumping to head the ball without raising your arms is virtually impossible but Schweinsteiger was half a second out, Evra won the header and his arm had nowhere to go.

The mistake, such as it was, was particularly cruel as Schweinsteiger had strolled through the previous 44 minutes. Utilised in a deeper role to minimise his running, he dictated the play, found team-mates with simple passes and encouraged his side throughout.

Such form in such a game would have been worthy of praise but in all likelihood few players other than Schweinsteiger would have made it there in the first place.

An injury-plagued debut season with Manchester United ended in March with a knee injury and his Germany squad place was a doubt until the last moment, despite being the captain.

And called into action to replace Sami Khedira after 15 minutes of the quarter-final win over Italy, he required treatment for a knee ligament injury just to make the semi-final teamsheet.

"We all know just how strong his will is," Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer said. "We all still have the picture of his bleeding face in the World Cup final before our eyes."

On that occasion in Rio de Janeiro, the battered and bloodied Schweinsteiger was close to collapse at full-time having held the German midfield together almost on his own, through sheer force of will, in the extra-time win over Argentina.

But that sort of effort exacts a heavy price even if the bill is not presented immediately.

“It is now widely accepted in his homeland that the man who played through the pain barrier to produce a titanic, heroic performance to drive his country to World Cup glory is now a fading force, with a creaking body that is increasingly vulnerable to injury,” an English paper wrote of the 31-year-old before the tournament started.

"Of course it is very disappointing that you go out," Schweinsteiger said after the game. "But I think the path of the national team will definitely go on."

Whether Schweinsteiger is with them on that path remains to be seen.

"As I said before the tournament I haven't thought about it. I put all the energy I have into this tournament," he said.

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff pleaded for caution but it is far from impossible that the warrior Schweinsteiger decides this was his last hurrah with Germany - especially if international breaks could be put to better use extending his club career.

"After such a phase everyone needs first time and distance and then we'll see," Bierhoff said.

Last update: Fri, 08/07/2016 - 10:15

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