Jerome Boateng laughs about Lionel Messi moment, defends Pep Guardiola
NEW YORK -- Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng says that he laughs when he looks back at the moment Lionel Messi's skill caused him to fall over in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Barcelona in May.
Speaking exclusively to ESPN FC, the defender was philosophical about one of last season's most famous moments.
"That doesn't really affect me," the 26-year-old said. "I was laughing at myself. When you fall down or slip in a situation and somebody scores a goal, it's normal. These things happen; it happens to me, it happens to other players, I don't care about these things.
"For me, he's the best player in the world. That's football. Sometimes you look bad or something happens. I'm a defender, that doesn't kill me or anything."
Boateng gave a rating of seven out of 10 for Bayern's 2014-15 campaign, in which Pep Guardiola's side won the Bundesliga and reached the semifinals of both the DFB Pokal and Champions League.
In Europe, they were undone by the brilliance of Messi as Barcelona won 3-0 in the first leg en route to a 5-3 aggregate triumph.
"Of course it was a bad loss for us, and we did well for 75 minutes or something, and then against a team like this it's difficult," Boateng said. "Especially the second goal was a great goal from Messi. At the end of the day, you have to continue your hard work, and next season I will try with the team again to win the Champions League. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win, sometimes you are unlucky, but that's life."
Bayern were deprived of several key players in the semifinal against Barcelona, including Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and Boateng believes that any club would miss the qualities they offer.
"I don't want to have an excuse or something, but of course it's a big influence for us, for our team," he said. "We have been missing also David Alaba, who is a key player for us, and Arjen and Franck. It's like when you take from Barcelona Messi, Neymar and [Andres] Iniesta. But like I said, that's football. The moment we didn't have them, we tried our best. We lost against a better team over two games, so next season I hope we're going to meet them again and then we try with a different team."
In two seasons with Bayern, Guardiola has won back-to-back league titles but has twice been knocked out of the Champions League at the semifinal stage. Boateng, though, rejected the suggestion Guardiola has underachieved in Germany.
"I would say that's bulls---. There are other strong teams, when you see Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, we are not the only team on the planet. You must see every year, last six or seven years we've been in the Champions League semis every year, his first season we won the Super Cup, Club World Cup, so we won a lot of titles under Pep and now the second time the Bundesliga and everybody's like 'oh yes, that's normal,' but it's not normal at all in how it works. Under Pep Guardiola, it's hard work.
"For me, [Guardiola] is one of the best coaches I've ever met. He's super clever and tactically really good, and he knows how to speak to us, how to motivate us and that's what it is like. He's a really great coach and I'm really happy I can train under him.
"Now, I'm looking forward to how he is going to prepare us for the new season. It always interesting because he's always coming up with new ideas. He always wants to make every player better everyday and I'm really interested and excited to see that."
Guardiola's predecessor Jupp Heynckes won the Champions League in his final season as manager and Boateng says that, while there are similarities, he has noticed some differences between the philosophies of the two men.
"Everybody has a different idea of the game, and between Jupp Heynckes, both really trained a lot with the ball. What is good for the team, you see it, we have a lot of possession in the games, like when we play games in the Bundesliga or Champions League, we always want the ball. We put high pressure on the teams, so that's something that's a little different from Guardiola to Heynckes. With Heynckes, we don't press so high and had kind of a little bit different idea of the game."
As he relaxes ahead of the new season, Boateng cast his mind back to last year's World Cup, in which he started each of Germany's seven games, culminating in the 1-0 final win vs. Argentina. Reminders of that success are never far away.
"It's always, like, people remind me of it," Boateng said. "I don't think about it so much, but when you meet people, especially in Germany, it was crazy. You meet somebody on a bus or something and they say, 'Thank you for the World Cup, it was so good to see,' and stuff like this, it's funny.
Germany's winner was score in extra time by substitute Mario Gotze and secured the country's fourth world title.
"I was close to the midline maybe and hoping something would happen before penalties and I remember that moment," Boateng recalled. "All the pain from my leg was away and I ran to the front to Mario and of course, it was totally emotional. Totally emotional feeling after the referee's whistle; it was the best feeling ever, of course. To get the title for your home country in another country like Brazil, the home of football, it was amazing."
Watch more of Jerome Boateng's interview on ESPN FC TV (Wednesday, 6 p.m. ET: ESPNews)