Jerome Boateng on Pep Guardiola, Jupp Heynckes, the Champions League and winning the World Cup

Jerome Boateng
Jerome Boateng

Jerome Boateng says he - like employers Bayern Munich - is in a very good place now that his recent injuries are behind him.

Thigh and shoulder problems restricted the 29-year-old defender to just 13 top-flight appearances last term, but he has been a virtual ever-present of late, celebrating his 150th Bundesliga outing in the red of Bayern in Saturday's 2-0 win at Mainz.
"I feel good, Boateng told "I'm very happy that I'm feeling better. I'm feeling very comfortable on the pitch now. It took a while with my muscle and shoulder injuries."
In peak condition once more, Boateng has already made as many Bundesliga appearances in 2017/18 as he did last term. He has also started Bayern's last eight league assignments, recording as many wins and four clean sheets.
"We're playing way better than before," Boateng said, Bayern having posted 13 Bundesliga wins from a possible 14 since Jupp Heynckes returned to the helm at the start of October 2017. "[Jupp] has great experience, he's like a father figure for our team and everybody follows him. We're very happy."
Boateng was an integral part of the Heynckes side that claimed an historic Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup treble in 2012/13, but it was the subsequent tutelage of Pep Guardiola that helped shape him into one of world football's most accomplished centre-backs.
"He's brilliant - one of the best," Boateng said, having added three Bundesliga titles and two DFB Cups to his collection during Guardiola's three-year stint in charge. "For me, tactically, he is the best. This season, Man City have bought a lot of good players. You can see that it's his team now. They're playing very well."
With Bayern and Guardiola's Manchester City through to the last 16 of the Champions League, there is every possibility of a two-legged reunion at Europe's top table in the spring. The record German champions lost out in the last four in each of Guardiola's three seasons as coach and in the quarter-finals under Carlo Ancelotti last season, but Boateng is determined to go the distance in 2017/18, just as he did five years ago.
"Obviously, we want to go as far as we can," the FIFA 2014 World Cup winner said. "There are tough leagues. The English League, the Spanish, Italian, they have good teams, but at the end of the day we have a very strong squad and we will try to win it. Of course, it will not be easy."
Germany's World Cup triumph is another feat Boateng will be hoping to emulate. The Berlin native started every game at the finals in Brazil and - fitness pending - is a shoo-in for a starting berth alongside Bayern teammate Mats Hummels in Russia later this summer.
"It's the biggest thing you can achieve," Boateng admitted. "It was very emotional, but I left it behind me very quickly. I didn't think everyday,
'I'm a world champion'. I want to set new goals because if you say 'I'm a world champion,' you don't grow and don't keep your level."

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