It was Wednesday, May 6, 2015. Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona, was packed to capacity. It was a homecoming of sorts.
Messi received a long flighted ball from the Jordi Alba in the left-central channel, but was met before he could take a second touch by a quickly advancing Jérôme Boateng.
Boateng easily intervened, poking the ball away from Barcelona’s messiah.
Unfortunately for Bayern, Boateng only temporarily relieved the pressure.
Seconds later, Barcelona was back at it, breathing down the Germans’ throats. The ball found Ivan Rakitić, who looked up and saw the channel — the bare, naked channel. It was time for Germans to scramble, because they saw it too.
“OK. This is a potential problem,” everyone on Bayern and rooting for Bayern must have thought.
But Boateng, at this point still coherent, might have been thinking, “I’ve closed him down before; I can do it again. Plus, I won the goddamn World Cup. Against Argentina, at that.”
To his credit, Boateng was in good position to recover. Messi had to cut inside to get the ball onto his left foot, and Boateng was inside. If he forced Messi toward the endline, he had two defenders to his left capable of marking runners. Things weren’t great, but they were far from horrible.
Messi cut inside, on his preferred left foot. Oh no. Boateng’s body started to rebel. But he was still in striking distance, although possibly only for a desperate, last-ditch tackle.
And then it happened: “OH NO. HE CUT IT BACK TO HIS RIGHT. OH NO. MY BALANCE. OH NO. I’M GOING TO BE ALL OVER THE NEWS AND INTERNET AND MAYBE POSTERS FOREVER. DO THEY STILL MAKE POSTERS? AAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!”
And then Jérôme Boateng fell to the earth.
It was the last we heard of ol’ Jérôme who, word has it, went on to meet his maker upstairs.
What happened next was irrelevant. There was some desperation. A little chip to beat Manuel Neuer and then a burial for the passing of Jérôme Boateng.
Jérôme was a great defender while he was with us. His family will probably set up a fund to financing the scrubbing of posts like this from the internet.
Here are a few memories: