Jerome Boateng has laughed off the reaction to him falling over as he tried to tackle Lionel Messi whenBarcelona thrashed Bayern Munich 3-0 last month.
The defender was subject to a barrage of comedy memes and social media criticism after he tripped up while trying to backtrack in his own penalty area as the Argentine scored the Catalans’ second.
Boateng has taken the Champions League semi-final first leg aftermath in his stride, however, and suggested that such pitfalls come with the territory when you’re matched against Messi.
“That fall didn’t really affect me,” Boateng told ESPN. “I was laughing at myself, too! 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.”
Bayern were unable to salvage the second leg of the European tussle with Luis Enrique’s men, winning 3-2 but going out 5-3 on aggregate as they had to settle for just the Bundesliga in 2015.
Boateng is trying to put the defeat in context of treble-winners Barca’s excellence while rejecting suggestions that Guardiola should have won more in his first two seasons at the Allianz Arena.
“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,” the Germany international, 26, added. “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.”
“I would say it’s bull***t to say Guardiola has underachieved. 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, in the last six or seven years we’ve been in the Champions League semis every year, his first season we won the Uefa 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 incredibly 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 every day and I’m really interested and excited to see that.”