This weekend, new OL superstar Jerome Boateng will get his first taste of a derby day in France as his Lyon team travel to arch rivals Saint-Etienne...It may be his first Rhône derby but the Germany and Bayern Munich legend is no stranger to famous rivalries...
Known simply 'Le Derby' in France, the rivalry between Olympique Lyonnais and close neighbours Saint-Etienne is the longest-running and most consistently heated in French football - and of course new OL recruit Boating has been clued in about the significance of the fixture he will experience on Sunday night at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
'Prove where we want to be'
"I heard it’s pretty serious. I heard it’s the biggest and most important game for the fans in the year!" Boateng told the Ligue 1 Show, doubtless aware that the 13 places that separate seventh-placed OL from bottom side Sainté may not count for much when the whistle blows. "For us, of course, it’s a difficult away game but also an interesting game where we can prove where we want to be, going up, but an away game we have to win. It’s very important!"
It’s not exactly his first experience of a derby… the former Manchester City, Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich man has been at the heart of numerous regional rivalries.
"The Berlin derby was an experience, with a lot of electricity between the fans!" recalled Boateng, who came up through the academy at the club from the German capital. "It was one of my first games and so it was really a great atmosphere, and it’s blue against red in Berlin and it was really quite an experience for me!"
'The atmosphere was crazy'
Of course the cross-town hostilities in Manchester are the stuff of legend...
"The Manchester derby is one of the most crazy derbies I ever experienced because the fans they go crazy. The whole game it’s loud and they’re pushing their teams to the edge!" Boateng recounted. "I know we lost at Old Trafford with the goal of Rooney. I think the other we draw 0-0 so was not too bad but to be honest the atmosphere was crazy at those derbies in Manchester, I can’t compare that to Berlin… That was quite an experience also for me.
Not to mention what it's like when Bayern face off against Dortmund!
"Der Klassiker is one of the best games in Germany you will have and I was lucky enough to experience even a Champions League final against Dortmund. To win it was an amazing feeling!" said the two-time UEFA Champions League winner. "There are a lot of memories because these are the most and best games you play in Germany. I remember the first year wasn’t a great experience because we lost against them but then from then on we always had big games with them, and most of the time I have great memories because I won more than I lost, 100%!"
>> PLAYER PROFILE: Jérôme Boateng