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Exclusive interview

Boateng: It's time for full power

Less than 24 hours had passed since the 2-0 victory over Hannover, and Jérôme Boateng was relaxed. After some regeneration exercises, the centre-half joined on Sunday for an interview about the current situation at Bayern. What are his thoughts on the victory over Hannover? How much is he looking forward to the start of the Champions League? And what does he expect from the upcoming Bundesliga match against Schalke and his half-brother Kevin-Prince?

Interview: Jérôme Boateng Jérôme, against Hannover you were substituted midway through the second half, and the whole Arena rose to applaud you. How often does that happen to a defender?
Boateng: Not very often. Defenders aren’t usually involved in the most spectacular moves in a game. It makes it so much more enjoyable when a good performance is recognised by the fans. I appreciated it.

As a team you won the game, but as a defender it must be satisfying to keep a clean sheet.
Yes, it's very important for me and my fellow defenders, but also for the rest of the team. Manu [Manuel Neuer] in particular is thrilled when we don't concede.

Coach Pep Guardiola is working hard on giving the defence more stability. How’s it going?
We're making progress, even though it was better before the break for internationals than against Hannover. We let them hit us with counter attacks too often, that opened up chances for them.

Can you really expect everything to work perfectly after an international break?
No, but that can't be an excuse. Of course internationals reduce our crispness, but with our squad, we have to be able to compensate for that.   We aren't satisfied with our performance in the first half, but we improved in the second.

Matthias Sammer said the team lacked emotion. What do you think about his comment?
I think he’s right. Matthias Sammer doesn't say anything that isn't of value. I think the team has to accept the criticism, because we have a lot of games and need to concentrate on those.

Let's speak about you for a moment. You're a regular for Bayern, and now also a regular for Germany in your favoured position as centre-half. Have you made the progress you were hoping for after your move to Munich?
I feel really comfortable at Bayern, the best club on the planet in my opinion. At the time of the transfer I had a knee injury, which shows how much faith the club had in me. I think I’ve been headed in the right direction ever since, and that I’m improving every year.

Progress like that isn't only based on regular team training. What else have you done to improve?
Like all my team-mates I regularly train outside normal hours, things like passing, heading or just a general workout in the gym. Due to the high number of games, especially in the Champions League, I’ve become calmer on the ball. I also have more confidence in my abilities and don't put myself under too much pressure. In the past, that caused me to be fearful or made me try too hard. I tried to regain possession too quickly, so I ended up doing stupid fouls. That has changed.

The Champions League is about to restart. How much are you looking forward to Tuesday's match?
Massively! Finally it's about to restart. As always, we want to go as far as we can in the competition. It’s pivotal for us to make a good start.

In the long history of the Champions League, no team has ever managed to retain the trophy...
We would of course love to be the first team to achieve it. However, we’re at the start of the season and can't afford to think that far yet. We take each game as it comes. At the moment it’s important to make a good start to the group phase.

Your first opponents are CSKA Moscow. What do you expect from the Russian champions?
We don't often get to see CSKA’s games, so it's hard to say. We’ll be taking a look at a lot of video material, and I’ll personally check out their strikers online. What I do know is that they're very tricky opponents. They have a couple of really talented players, so we can't underestimate them. We have to be careful.

Four days after CSKA, you have another top billing game, and a special one for you personally. When you visit Schalke, you’ll be playing against your half-brother Kevin-Prince. Has there been any pre-match banter between the two of you?
As you’ve said, it's after the Champions League. Kevin is also playing in the competition with Schalke. After that, there probably will be some teasing, and we’ll probably be texting a bit.

How often have you played each other?
We mostly played when we were both in youth teams, before we were together at Hertha BSC. Since then, we’ve only met once in the Bundesliga. It was brief: He came on for Dortmund, and 20 minutes later I was subbed off for Hamburg. The only real time we played was at the 2010 World Cup [in Germany’s 1-0 victory over Ghana], and I won that match. So in competitive games, I’m in the lead.

How do you feel when you go into a tackle against your brother?
On the one hand it's a normal challenge, on the other hand it's not. Each of us wants to show he’s the better player. It should be a fun match.