Jerome Boateng says top players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar can smell fear
Lionel Messi had famously left Boateng flat on the floor and scored a wonderful goal when Barcelona beat Bayern Munich in the 2014/15 semifinal. Boateng laughed off that blunder, but maintains that when Messi or fellow Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo have the ball in space, it's a major challenge for any defender.
Boateng, 27, is currently out with injury, and he hopes to be back before the end of the season.
Writing for the Player’s Tribune, Boateng said:
"With Ronaldo or Messi, whatever option you choose is difficult if they come at you with open space,
"They're just so fast. Neymar and Messi are low to the ground and can turn quickly, so it's difficult for defenders like me, who are tall centre-backs. Ronaldo, he's got the height, but he's also got incredible speed, strength and a good header.
"You can't be lazy or caught on your heels with those players, because they will win and they will score. They are just too good for you to make even a little mistake. More than speed or technique though, as a defender you need confidence.
"Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez, Neymar -- they can all smell if you're afraid to duel with them. One whiff and then they destroy you. So you gotta show up."
Bayern Munich blew a 2-0 lead against Juventus as the match ended 2-2 but the Bavarians will still be the favourites to progress after they scored two vital way goals.
Reports say Neymar has signed a pre-contract with Barcelona
Barcelona striker Neymar Jr. has signed a pre-contract with the Catalans, according to various sources in Spain. The Brazilian virtuoso has been in contractual negations with Barcelona since the season began, and the complex deal has finally made a progressive step, if the Spanish press are to be believed.
According to Spanish radio network Cadena Cope, Neymar has signed a ‘pre-contract’ that will keep him at the club until 2021, which amounts to a three-year extension on his current deal. The Brazilian has put his signature on a ‘letter of intent’ that is not legally binding, but has clauses that could be finalized in the formal contract Neymar might eventually sign.
The Spanish radio show El Partido de las 12 reported further details, saying that wages and bonus clauses haven’t been finalized, but the framework for those talks has been laid out. The three-year extension to Neymar’s current deal, which runs out in 2018, guarantees the striker a rise in his salary, although the extent to which that can occur has yet to be discussed.
Barcelona will have to tread carefully, as any high wages will see them cross their salary cap, which will mean they might have to offload many players from their squad.