Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng has said that world-class players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo can smell fear and never give opponents a minute off during matches.
Boateng, 27, is out with an injury for his Bavarian club, but hopes to return for the end of the Bundesliga season and in time to compete for the German national team at the 2016 Euro in France.
Messi famously tied Boateng up in their 2014-15 Champions League semifinal first leg, causing the German to fall while the Barcelona talisman completed a brilliant goal.
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.
"With Ronaldo or Messi, whatever option you choose is difficult if they come at you with open space," Boateng wrote in the The Players' Tribune.
"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."
Boateng's Bayern Munich team gave up a 2-0 lead vs. Juventus on Tuesday to finish in a 2-2 draw in their Champions League last-16 first leg.
The team will look to see out the tie on March 16, when Juve make the trip to Bavaria for the second leg and a berth in the UCL quarterfinals.