After his preseason performances earned him praise from Bayern Munich players and staff, the 2014 World Cup winner was in the starting lineup against Dortmund. “He played a good game," Bayern coach Niko Kovac told DW.
Back in May, it looked like Jerome Boateng was on his way out of Bayern Munich. Club President Uli Hoeness seemed to all but confirm the 2014 World Cup winner's departure during the club's title-winning celebrations at Munich's Marienplatz, telling German media that Boateng felt like "a foreign body" at the club. "As a friend, I'd advise him to find another club," Hoeness said.
Boateng himself echoed the sentiment: "It was a bad year, both for the club and for myself,” the 30-year-old told German sports publication Kicker, adding that he could see himself leaving the German champions "if the right offer comes."
Now, however, voices from within the club are calling for Boateng to stay. "He's trained very well during the tour, and has surely won positive points," said Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Thomas Müller struck a similar note: "Jerome Boateng, when he plays football in this form, does us good," the attacker said after Bayern's loss to Tottenham Hotspur in the final of the preseason Audi Cup. Defender Niklas Süle also spoke highly of Boateng: "I'm a big fan of Jerome. I love playing with him."
Preferred to new signings
The Supercup in Dortmundprovided further testament to Boateng's changing fortunes at the Allianz Arena. Boateng was named in the starting XI together with Süle, with new addition Benjamin Pavard — touted as one of Bayern's future starting defenders along with fellow Frenchman Lucas Hernandez — starting on the bench.
Boateng almost cost Bayern a goal as one of his passes struck Jadon Sancho's knee. Paco Alcacer spotted Manuel Neuer's rather risky position not far from the halfway line, dribbled past him and tried his luck from about 40 meters. The ball went just centimeters wide of the right post.
Just a few minutes later, and Boateng was in the spotlight again, this time as Bayern's savior. The defender's decision to run opposite to the direction of the ball allowed him to clear it when Marco Reus would have otherwise been left all alone in front of goal.
The Sancho show
As the game progressed, the Bundesliga champions took more and more control of the game. But it was Dortmund who got onto the scoresheet three minutes after the start of the second half. Sancho's dribbling proved too much for Boateng and the rest of Bayern's defence, with Alacacer finishing the job smoothly from outside the box. The English winger's speed seemed a particular problem for Boateng, with his positioning also being an issue.
Then came Dortmund's second goal, with Boateng having drifted out of position, leaving Sancho alone with Neuer. The Borussia Dortmund attacker made no mistake and smoothly edged the ball past Germany's No. 1. Bayern's defense simply couldn't handle the English teenager's pace and dribbling throughout the second half. According to the football analytics company Opta, Jerome Boateng won a mere 20 percent of his one-to-one battles during the game.
'Right now, he's one of us'
Asked by DW about Jerome Boateng's future, Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac said Boateng had played a good game, in his view.
"The mistakes we've made were mostly up front. Right now, he's one of us," Kovac said.
If he does end up staying, Boateng will most likely find himself behind Pavard and Hernandez in Bayern's pecking order. A club could do worse than having a player of Boateng's stature as a squad player — as long as he doesn't have to face Sancho again.