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'Kaiser' Boateng’s passing masterclass

“Well, Lothar Matthäus is a world star, he can do it with his left or his right, from behind or in front,” honorary Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer once said about the former FCB skipper. That was in 1990; Beckenbauer was Germany boss and Matthäus was his captain. The midfielder was Beckenbauer's chief lieutenant on the pitch, leading Germany to the World Cup trophy. Some 25 years later this statement is back on the experts’ lips, and it is being applied to Jérôme Boateng.

In the surprisingly clear-cut 5-1 victory against Borussia Dortmund the centre-back excelled as the undisputed chief of the defence with 94 touches of the ball (the most of all the players), the best tackling ratio of 67 percent and the most instances of recovered possession in defence (seven). But because Boateng is strong in attack too, just like Matthäus once was, he set up the most shots on goal (three), of which two went in.

Exceptional passes

The manner in which the 27-year-old played in scorers Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski was genuinely impressive. First he served up Müller’s first goal in the 26th minute: a 50-yard pass with his right foot from the Bayern half directly into the path of Müller, who made it 1-0. Right after the break he topped even that, delivering a 60-yard pinpoint pass with his left foot to Lewandowski who only had to tap in to make it 3-1.

“He played two amazing passes. The ability to open up a game like that is unique for a central defender,” Müller enthused. Coach Pep Guardiola spoke of an “incredible pass” shortly after the break, commenting that Boateng is “one of the best when it comes to build-up play.” Jerome’s last assist dates back to March 2012, and the last time he finished on two assists in a match was in 2008. “He’s playing at an incredible level. Jérôme has made enormous progress in the last few years. He's a towering pillar for us and for Germany,” skipper Philipp Lahm agreed.

Boateng modest as usual

Boateng certainly showed off his talent, and not only with his assists. He excelled with many precise switches of play, no matter with which foot. “In the last two years Boateng has been performing at an absolutely world-class level. He's one of the best central defenders in the world,” Franz Beckenbauer himself said. Müller crowned the chorus of praise, giving Boateng a fitting name. “Kaiser Jérôme Boateng saw the gap. I just saw the space. I'm pleased, he's pleased too.”

Kaiser Boateng celebrated extravagantly after the two assists, almost as if he had scored the goals himself. But after the final whistle he was sober and modest as usual when talking to reporters. “It worked really well today,” the model athlete commented. “I'm pleased about that. I'm pleased for Thomas and Lewy. And I'm pleased that we had a good match,” he said, and left the Allianz Arena.