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Interview: Jérôme Boateng

‘We want this trophy in Munich too’

Bayern’s team hotel in Agadir lies in a beautiful garden setting but is a few kilometres from the sea. However, Munich have not come to Morocco for a swim but rather to crown the year 2013 by winning the Club World Cup. “We want to bring home this trophy too,” Jérôme Boateng exclusively told “Naturally you feel yourself running low on energy, but you can summon up all your reserves in two more matches.“

In our interview the centre-back spoke not only about the Club World Cup and semi-final opponents Guangzhou Evergrande, but also discussed his progress as a player, the Bundesliga season, and next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Interview: Jérôme Boateng Jérôme, it’s been a long and demanding year but you could finish it with a fifth trophy. Do you still have the power for that?
It’s a purely mental thing. Naturally you feel yourself running low on energy, but you can summon up all your reserves in two more matches, and that’s what we’ll do. We want to bring home this trophy too!“

How valuable is this trophy to you personally?
Very valuable. Who knows if I’ll ever have another shot at this tournament again? Every player yearns for these things, and we’re privileged enough to be here this year. That’s motivation enough.

You play Guangzhou Evergrande in Tuesday’s semi-final. What are you expecting from the Asian Champions League winners?
The important thing will be to focus. We’ll be superior in terms of technique and physique, but they have plenty of smaller, agile players and we have to be ready for that.

You’ve just extended your stay at Bayern until 2018. Why do you fit in so well at the club?
I’ve felt incredibly good here from the very first day. There is nothing better than the club, the fans and the city of Munich. I’m proud to be part of this superb team. Once you’ve experienced life at Bayern you never want to leave.

You sealed top spot in the Bundesliga at Christmas on Saturday, the so-called autumn championship. Does that matter to the team?
I’ve not heard anyone talking about it, and that’s how it should be. We’re only halfway through the season and this unofficial title doesn’t buy you anything. But obviously we’re in a great position for the second half of the season.

Are Leverkusen and Dortmund your toughest rivals for the title?
Leverkusen’s defeat [to Frankfurt on Sunday] means we have a nice cushion, but Bayer are having a good season and they’re our closest rivals. Dortmund have a lot of injuries, but once they get their players back they’ll pick up points. The vital thing is for us to hit the ground running after the winter break.

Was the 3–2 defeat to Manchester City a warning shot?
Yes, because it showed you can take nothing for granted and you must never relax. You’ll be immediately punished, especially by the top teams.

You’ve been outstanding recently but the City clash wasn’t one of your best performances. How do you cope with a below-par display?
I’m very critical of myself. There will always be mistakes and I’m not a machine. But I like to figure these things out. The minute I got home I watched the whole game again and analysed the situations. Why did the mistake happen? How did it come about? And then I try to recreate the situations in training the next day and do better. It normally works out well.

Overall you’ve come on really well personally and turned in some superb performances. How have you achieved this?
I’ve simply worked hard on myself. I’m smarter in the tackle, more composed on the ball, more precise in my build-up play, more dynamic in the air, and more certain of my positioning. I sense I’ve reached a higher level, but I’m still young and have plenty of potential. I need to become a better header of the ball in attack. Given how big I am, I shouldn’t be firing into the far corner with my weaker foot [in the 3–0 victory over Augsburg on 9 November] just to score the occasional goal (laughs).

How have you built up your athleticism and pace?
I do lots of specific exercise routines, but I can still improve in this area too. As a bigger player I particularly have to work on acceleration over the first five metres and turning quickly.

How much are you looking forward to the World Cup in Brazil?
I had butterflies watching the draw, especially when we were paired with Ghana. We face my brother [Kevin-Prince] again and that’s terrific. Obviously I’m hoping for plenty of playing time, but I’m making no demands. I want to convince the coach I’m the right man by delivering the goods. And the focus for now is totally on Bayern anyway.