Champions League

Anatomy of a goal: Lionel Messi's bamboozling of Jerome Boateng

Ross Jackson
May 6, 2021, 7:00 PM GMT+1
Lionel Messi puts Jerome Boateng on his backside at the Camp Nou
Lionel Messi puts Jerome Boateng on his backside at the Camp Nou / Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images

Every once in a while something so incredible happens that the footballing world puts its rivalries aside and unites.

You'd be forgiven for thinking we're going to go off on some Super League tangent here, but the rivalry we're talking about is everyone's favourite Lionel Messi brigade vs Cristiano Ronaldo lovers.

Lionel Messi leaves Jerome Boateng on the floor
Lionel Messi leaves Jerome Boateng on the floor / Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images

Rumours has it as the diminutive Argentinian slipped the ball through Jerome Boateng's legs in Camp Nou back in 2015 before dinking the ball over Manuel Neuer - comfortably the best goalkeeper in the world at the time - a man with a tattoo of Cristiano Ronaldo's face on his back was seen standing to applaud the Barcelona forward.

Sometimes you've just got to shove agendas to one side and appreciate absolute wizardry.

Barça's Champions League semi-final tie with Bayern Munich six years ago carried a number of intriguing subplots, though the Camp Nou return of Barcelona legend Pep Guardiola dominated the buildup.

The two sides had breezed through their respective groups in the early stages of the competition - both picking up five wins from their six group outings - though Bayern had been blessed with a much easier route to the last four.

Guardiola's men hit no fewer than 14 goals as they brushed aside Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto in the first two knockout rounds of the competition, while Luis Enrique's men were forced to edge past Manchester City at the round of 16 before making light work of their quarter-final clash with French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

The pair's domestic campaigns reflected a very similar story with Die Roten charging towards their third consecutive Bundesliga crown with little more than a whimper from their opposition, while Barça were locked in a fierce battle with Real Madrid to be crowned La Liga champions.

Whether Bayern's smoother campaign thus far would work in their favour or not remained to be seen, though one thing was for sure - it would be a truly memorable clash.

A tight affair was anticipated by most as two of Europe's giants faced off. Bayern were looking to make it to their third Champions League final in just four years while Barcelona hadn't made it past the semi-final stage for three years - an absolute travesty in Catalonia.

The game went as expected with both sides cancelling each other out somewhat, though it was the home team who were looking the more likely to break the deadlock and with just 13 minutes to play Messi did what Messi does and edged his side ahead.

Boateng stumbles backwards after Messi's brilliance
Boateng stumbles backwards after Messi's brilliance / LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Brilliant. Job done. Nice 1-0 lead to take Munich.

Messi had other ideas.

With ten minutes to play the Barcelona number ten picked up the ball from Ivan Rakitic on the Bayern left. Boateng sprinted to get himself back into position and immediately applied the breaks once he'd managed to get goalside of his man.

There was no frantic charging back from the rest of the Bayern backline with Boateng face on and looking steady.

Die Roten defender Medhi Benatia played the role of Peter Reid in Diego Maradona's goal against England in 1986 beautifully (if you don't know what we're talking about then go and look it up immediately after reading this), casually jogging along without a care in the world knowing there was no danger.

What more can you do really, Pep?
What more can you do really, Pep? / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Similarly to Reid, Benatia hadn't a clue that a little Argentine genius was about to pull a rabbit out of the hat, cutting inside with the outside of his boot before immediately cutting back out, leaving Boateng looking like Paul Alcock after Paolo Di Canio had given him a little shove (again, look it up).

It was a moment of pure brilliance, yet while the majority of us would have spooned the ball out for a goal kick with our palms sweating and heart racing at what we'd just done, the little magician had the poise to gracefully lift the ball over the advancing Neuer to put his side 2-0 up.

Barcelona advanced to the final 5-3 on aggregate before going on to lift the Champions League trophy by overcoming Juventus in the final.

Many people struggle to remember anything other than the final of tournaments years afterwards but nobody will ever forget Barcelona's semi-final with Bayern and it's all down to one man.