Kevin Boeteng and Jerome Boeteng.jpg
The top game of Matchday 23 between league leaders and defending champions Bayern Munich and fourth-place Schalke 04 comes with its own fraternal sub-plot.
In the (Munich) red corner, German international centre back Jerome Boateng; in the (Royal) Blue corner, his half-brother and Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Given that the latter is often to be found in an advanced midfield role, the chances of the two going head-to-head on occasion seem fairly high.
Off the pitch, they are in touch with each other almost every day and have a very close relationship, but that will be put on ice for the duration of the contest on Saturday.
Both Berlin natives are first-team regulars at their respective clubs. Kevin-Prince, who turns 27 in early March, wasted no time establishing his credentials as a natural onfield leader following his surprise move to Gelsenkirchen from AC Milan at the end of last August.
Dynamic, ultra-competitive and with a fierce shot to complement his top-drawer technique, “the Prince” has brought a whole new dimension to Schalke’s game.
Jerome, the younger by a year and more introverted by nature, cemented his place in the centre of the defence for both club and country with a fine second season-half as FC Bayern stormed to an historic treble last year.
After coming through the ranks together at Hertha Berlin, the brothers – who have the same Ghanaian father but different German mothers – went their separate ways.
Jerome landed up at FC Bayern, by way of Hamburger SV and Manchester City, in the summer of 2011.
Kevin-Prince also spent time in the English Premier League at Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth, with a half-season loan spell at Dortmund thrown in, before being snapped up by Serie A giants AC Milan, where he was to spend three successful years before Schalke came calling.
Their paths also diverged at national team level in 2009. Just as Jerome was getting his first call-up for Germany, Kevin-Prince – who had represented his birth country in every category from U-15 to U-21 – opted to turn out at senior level for Ghana instead.
It was a decision that would lead to their first direct duel as professionals (other than a three-minute taster when Hamburg met Dortmund in 2009) as Germany beat Ghana 1-0 in the group stage of the Fifa 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Their most recent meeting, at the Veltins Arena last September, ended in a clear-cut 4-0 win for FC Bayern. “It was a special occasion for both of us. I didn’t have to console him and he congratulated me fairly,” Jerome said at the time, before graciously adding, “and Schalke are free to win again in their next game.”