MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 24: Jerome Boateng of Bayern Muenchen looks on during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Fortuna Duesseldorf at Allianz Arena on November 24, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng was reportedly “hit hard” by manager Niko Kovac’s decision to bench him last Friday

The 30-year-old has found opportunities at Bayern hard to come by this season after a summer transfer to Paris Saint-Germain fell through.

In fact, Boateng has only started 11 times in the Bundesliga with Kovac preferring to field Niklas Sule and Mats Hummels in the heart of the Bayern defence.

But, in light of announcing his wish to put a difficult 2018 behind him in the new year, Boateng worked extremely hard during training over the winter period and felt confident over his chances of making last Friday’s line-up against Hoffenheim.

However, Kovac opted to stick with Sule and Hummels with Boateng being informed of the Croatian’s decision just hours before the start of the game at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

Despite making a brief cameo in the end when he came on as a substitute for Javi Martinez, Kicker reports that Boateng was “hit hard” by his omission from the line-up and headed straight into the tunnels without a word once the final whistle was blown.

Speaking after Bayern’s 3-1 win over Hoffenheim, Kovac explained that his decision to keep Boateng benched was based on performances alone.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19: Thiago Alcantara of Bayern Munich holds off Naby Keita of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between Liverpool and FC Bayern Muenchen at Anfield on February 19, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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According to the former English Premier League footballer, the Reds have the advantage when they visit Bayern Munich in March.

“Niklas [Sule] does really well with his pace and doesn’t ponder too long,” said Kovac.

“He’s the first choice ahead of the other two. They will have to battle it out.

“We looked at things closely during the winter training camp. Mats did really well in the games before the winter break. Mats was just a little bit better.

“Jerome accepted the decision as a professional. I’ve got a great relationship with him. I trust him and he trusts me, but this is down to performances.”

In the game itself, German midfielder Leon Goretzka scored two first-half goals to put Bayern in control at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena before Nico Schulz got one back for the hosts after the break.

But Hoffenheim’s hopes of a comeback came to an end in the remaining three minutes when Robert Lewandowski scored a third for Bayern to seal a 3-1 win for the champions.

The Bavarians have now won their last six Bundesliga games and are firmly back in the title battle with six points separating them from leaders Borussia Dortmund.