EPL

Van Dijk the best in the world - Boateng

By Sports Desk June 26, 2020

Virgil van Dijk is the best centre-back in world football according to Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng.

Former Germany international Boateng has enjoyed a renaissance at Bayern this season, impressing alongside David Alaba at the heart of defence after Hansi Flick replaced Niko Kovac as head coach to guide the Bavarian giants to an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.

But he feels Van Dijk, now himself a top-flight champion after Liverpool clinched Premier League glory on Thursday, stands apart among the elite.

"He is up there with his consistent performance," Boateng said during a Bayern 'Fan-Talk'.

"But I also like [Kalidou] Koulibaly from Napoli. [Sergio] Ramos from Real Madrid has been playing at a high level for a long time."

As for his own upturn, the 31-year-old Boateng is keen to give plenty of credit to Flick.

"Since Hansi Flick became coach, you feel good in training and in everything. The fun and good mood are back," he explained.

"Hansi is very special, otherwise he would not be so successful with the team.

"He gives us a lot of trust, everyone. He wants to improve everyone and he does that. He gives us an incredible amount of self-confidence."

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    City made a top-four finish mathematically certain, as well as all but wrapping up second place as a treble from Sterling, plus goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva, saw off sorry Brighton.

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    Sterling has six goals in his past five games and moved onto 27 in all competitions, making this his best scoring season.

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    "At the end of the day [it is most important] to try and win the FA Cup final and try to win the Champions League as well otherwise these goals don't mean anything.

    "I need to try and make these goals count.

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    "We were disappointed last weekend with the loss away to Southampton when we created chances but we didn’t finish them. It is great to bounce back with another away win."

    Sterling moved onto 17 Premier League goals and was asked if he was eyeing a late push for the golden boot, with Jamie Vardy five ahead of him atop the scoring charts.

    Sterling said: "I said to myself earlier that I'm on 14 now and I need to score a hat-trick – and I’m grateful that I scored a hat-trick."

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    He inadvertently scored a header – his second of the match – through the legs of goalkeeper Mat Ryan while he was falling to the ground having forced his way past two Brighton defenders.

    Sterling said: "I tried to flick it over his head, and I've seen the keeper come out and I have headed it in! It counts!"

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    What does it mean? City emphatically end away-day blues

    City had lost their last three Premier League away games, while they had scored just three times in their last six top-flight matches on their travels, despite an expected goals figure of 13.

    They had no issues bringing those poor runs to a welcome end with a victory that all but secures second place in the Premier League after Chelsea's defeat against Sheffield United.


    Jesus impresses with Aguero out

    Brazil international Jesus scored his first goal since lockdown against Newcastle United last time out and, apart from the superb Sterling, was excellent as City's other standout in this game.

    He scored one and assisted two as well as being a constant threat in a lively 63-minute outing. He now has 20 goals and 10 assists in a season where he has become even more important with Sergio Aguero out injured.


    Brighton backline a concern

    Convincing home defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool and now City mean Brighton are not yet mathematically safe. Facing Pep Guardiola's side is a formidable task at the best of times, but their defending did themselves no favours here, with City players constantly finding themselves unmarked close to goal.


    What's next?

    City will likely make changes ahead of their FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal when they host struggling Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday, a day before Brighton could seal safety when they play away to Southampton.

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