Schweinsteiger plays down Bayern importance

Bastian Schweinsteiger tried to play down his importance to the Bayern Munich team on Monday but appeared to be swimming against the tide as his own coach again compared him to Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Bayern have suffered a mid-season slump which has coincided with two injuries to playmaker Schweinsteiger that have restricted him to only a handful of games since November.

The Bavarians have dropped five points behind Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund and slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie against FC Basel last month.

Bayern host Basel in the second leg on Tuesday with Schweinsteiger fit to play after making his comeback as a substitute in last Saturday's match against Hoffenheim.

"I'm very happy that Bastian is back, I've said before that Bastian plays in the same league as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Busquets," coach Jupp Heynckes told a news conference, referring to the Barcelona midfield trio.

"I have already spoken of how highly I rate him. It is very important that he's in the team circle. He can give us extra impulse on and off the pitch."

Heynckes, however, would not say whether or not Schweinsteiger would start against the Swiss champions while the player himself, sitting alongside his coach and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, looked faintly embarrassed by it all.

"Whether I play or not is a secondary matter," he said. "It's more important that the team win and achieve their goal."

"There are games where we have played well without me," he said, pointing out that Bayern beat Hoffenheim 7-1 on Saturday and had scored all their goals by the time he came on to a rapturous reception.

"Against Bayer Leverkusen, we were the better side for 60 minutes, we could have won the match," he added, referring to a game 10 days ago which Bayern lost 2-0.

"If I play, I will be happy and if I don't play, I will enjoy the game and try to push the team forward from the sidelines," added the player known as "Schweini".

Defeat is unthinkable for Bayern who are desperate to reach the final this season as it will be held in their own stadium.

Heynckes, in his third stint at the club, has been under increasing pressure recently, with the club last week issuing a strongly worded statement to deny rumours that the 66-year-old's job was under threat.

"It's not so dramatic, every team has ups and downs," he said. "We know about the problems, the important thing against Hoffenheim is that it was a good team performance."

"We must believe in ourselves and we can use our home advantage. I have great belief that with the backing of the fans, we can beat FC Basel, although we must be at our very best in defense not to concede a goal."