Has Javi Martínez got the toughest task in world football?

It promises to be a critical remainder to this season for versatile Bayern Munich man Javi Martínez, who has potentially the toughest task in world football on his hands.

The former Athletic Bilbao defensive midfielder has just spent two months on the sidelines with injury, following a groin operation back in September.

As he returns to fitness, the monumental test he has to undertake is to prove himself good enough to regain a place a European champion club side and a World champion national set-up.

Slowly-but-surely the 25-year-old has made a return to action, with his latest reintroduction to life on the pitch with the Allianz Arena giants coming in the Czech Republic in midweek.

Martínez replaced Bayern stalwart Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 59th minute of his club’s 1-0 victory over Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Ironically, this switch could well be for the foreseeable future, as Schweinsteiger has announced that he has put off necessary ankle surgery for too long, and will go under the knife very soon.

One man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity, and in this situation Martínez has a chance to assert himself in Bavaria once more.

Playing for the current German and European club champions and the European and world national champions is a testimony to the Estella-born star’s abilities.

Unfortunately, given the strength in depth of the assets available to both his club and national coaches, Martínez will need to work very hard to re-establish himself.

Naturally a defensive midfielder, Martínez has been used as a centre-half on plenty of occasions, with his versatility part of his overarching appeal. At Bayern, a central midfield berth looks the most likely for the Spaniard.

Javi MartínezDespite his considerable abilities, Martínez was in and out of the Bayern side last term. He started more games than he sat out, but was certainly subject to squad rotation from Jupp Heynckes.

Another obstacle in the former Bilbao man’s task of nailing down a regular starting berth is the evolution of Philipp Lahm from a full-back to a holding midfielder.

The German defender has been predominantly used in front of the side’s back four by Pep Guardiola this term, and will give Martínez another top-class team-mate to battle for a starting place with.

That said, in his last year at San Mamés before departing for Germany, Marcelo Bielsa preferred to use the assured figure at centre-half – another option for Guardiola and Bayern.

The immediate priority for Martínez is not where he plays, but that he plays. Getting a week-in, week-out starting berth with Die Roten is a privilege afforded to just a few, as Guardiola has an array of international stars to select from all over the pitch.

At national level, Martínez was part of the 2010 World Cup winning squad in South Africa, and the victorious Euro 2012 contingent. That said, the Osasuna youth product has only amassed 14 caps since his international debut three-and-a-half years ago.

Vicente Del Bosque has brought promising young players into his La Roja set-up this term to accompany the legendary perennial faces, but it does appear that the Spain boss tends to pick on form.

As such, Martínez has a long journey ahead of him over the next six months to firstly establish himself in a Bayern team looking to retain its treble of trophies from last term.

If and when given the chance, he must then subsequently impress to force a place in a Spain squad looking to retain the World Cup in Brazil. Not an easy task in anyone’s book.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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