Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has admitted that the prospect of facing Lionel Messi on Tuesday night is a daunting one - claiming that he's "lost sleep" in the buildup to the game as he plots the Barcelona's downfall.
The Blues host the Spanish league leaders at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Tuesday night, and Conte has made clear his admiration for Messi, who he described as the "best player in the world".
Conte says he didn't sleep much last night as he thought about challenge of facing Barca, and "the greatest player in the world".— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) February 19, 2018
Asked whether Chelsea will employ a tactic in an attempt to stop Messi, the Italian coach said: "This is a good question. We are talking about the best player in the world.
"Messi has the capacity to solve the situation and create a chance when you are not seeing the chance to score. This means that, with this player, we are talking about a fantastic player.
Conte asked how Chelsea can stop Messi: That’s a good question. We are talking about the best player in the world. Messi has the capacity to solve situations, to create a chance when there is no chance to score.— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) February 19, 2018
"We have to pay great attention, but not only to Messi. [Luis] Suarez is a fantastic striker. The rest of the team are very dangerous, so we have to work as a team to try and stop Barcelona — Messi, Suarez, [Andres] Iniesta, the whole team of Barcelona.
"We have to work very hard. We have to know that, during the game, we must be prepared to suffer. But, at the same time, we must have the idea to go and score at any moment."
Conte stressed that Chelsea remain outsiders in the tie, but revealed that he has set out a plan for the game.
"I think we start this game as underdogs, for sure. Barcelona — on paper — are favourites to go into the next round," he said.
"But, for this reason, I think we must be excited to take on this challenge. These two games will be very important to understand what is our level in this competition.
"We've worked and prepared well. It won't be easy. We are playing against Barcelona."