Antonio Conte hailed Lionel Messi as the best player in the world but warned his Chelsea players not to become fixated with Barcelona's talisman in Tuesday's Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge.
Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has an unusually poor record against Chelsea, failing to score in eight previous encounters with the reigning Premier League champions in Europe's top competition.
But Conte is not placing too much stock in the prospect of that record continuing and observed LaLiga's leaders can hurt opponents from all angles.
Asked whether Chelsea would grant Messi any special attention, Conte replied: "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.
"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."
As Italy boss at Euro 2016, Conte put forward a tactical masterclass as his unfancied side deservedly beat a Spain team featuring the likes of Iniesta and Gerard Pique 2-0 in the round of 16.
He conceded there were some parallels between that encounter and the two-legged battle about to unfold.
"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."
Conte added: "When you have to play this type of game, you have to prepare everything. You have to prepare big things, but the smaller details too. They can move a result a lot of the time.
"We have an idea. We have a plan in our heads. I think that, in this specific moment, it's very important to pick the players who are at the top of their form and then try and do our best to win the game."
|Messi ´never imagined´ his success after winning record fifth Golden Shoe|
|WATCH: Timberwolves´ Gibson tries to block shot with his trainer|
|Mourinho sacked: Klopp praises departed Manchester United boss|
|Mourinho sacked: Jose the best Manchester United manager since Ferguson - Gerrard|
|Mourinho sacked: Ferdinand calls for ´fresh ideas´ at Man United|
|Mourinho sacked: The mystique has gone as United spell ends in divorce|
|´He´s an interest not only for us but for many´ - Zola praises rumoured Chelsea target Wilson|
|Mourinho sacked: Pochettino focused on Spurs amid Manchester United rumours|
|Mendis eyes double-century for departing Samaraweera|
|Mourinho sacked: Zola expects Jose to be in another job ´soon´|
|Mourinho sacked: Five reasons it went wrong at Manchester United|
|Mourinho sacked: Jose´s Manchester United record in Opta stats|
|Mourinho sacked: Pogba, Ronaldo and Jose´s biggest bust-ups|
|Mourinho sacked: Blanc, Solskjaer - the men who could steady the United ship short-term|
|Mourinho sacked: The football world reacts|
|Mourinho sacked: What former United stars said after Liverpool loss|
|Mourinho sacked: Where next for the axed Manchester United boss?|
|UEFA to investigate alleged racist incidents at Vidi-Chelsea|
|Australia unchanged for rest of India series|
|Mourinho sacked: Pogba´s tweet a dig at departing Man United boss?|
|Newton left frustrated by shoulder injury as Panthers lose again|
|Mourinho sacked: Pochettino & Zidane lead potential Man Utd replacements|
|Mourinho sacked: Neville urges Man United to go for Pochettino|
|Boylen pleased to see Bulls react to red rag in Thunder fracas|
|Icardi and Inter ´very far´ apart in contract negotiations|
|Mourinho leaves Manchester United|
|Curry humbled by latest milestone|
|Robertson: ´Unbelievable´ Alisson will bounce back from error|
|Curry scores 15,000th regular-season point in Warriors win|
|Rams star Gurley ´day-to-day´ with knee inflammation|
|Saints poised to clinch NFC top seed after topping Panthers|
|Mathews, Mendis centuries frustrate New Zealand|
|Kohli: Relentless Australia deserved victory|
|Relief for Paine and Australia after ending Test drought|
|Australia level series with dominant win over India|
|Libertadores holders River learn group as CONMEBOL boss calls for end to violence|
|Chargers RB Gordon planning to return against Ravens|
|Kobe Bryant visit motivated Browns´ Jabrill Peppers|
|De Bruyne: Fatigue not behind injury woes|
|´That´s not my concern´ - Broncos coach Joseph on job security|
|Lowry on Leonard´s free agency: I just want him to be happy|
|Yankees give Sabathia $500K bonus despite ejection|
|Ronaldo confirmed Juventus interest in January – Mendes|
|Lakers guard Rondo to begin rehab stint in G League|
|Saiz to leave Leeds United for Getafe|
|Whyte thinks Joshua rematch is ´only a matter of time´|
|Greenwood stars as Man United end Chelsea´s FA Youth Cup dominance|
|Panthers tight end Olsen expects ´full recovery´ after surgery|
|Derby County 0 Nottingham Forest 0: Lampard´s men fourth after tense stalemate|
|Clermont lose former All Black Toeava for six months|
|MLS unveils revamped playoff format for 2019 season|
|Ferrari to celebrate Schumacher´s 50th birthday with museum exhibition|
|Rabiot set for PSG exit after cancelling contract talks|
|Pepe departs financially troubled Besiktas|
|Philadelphia Flyers fire coach Dave Hakstol|
|Eagles to start Foles v Texans|
|PSG matches against Montpellier and Dijon rearranged|
|Martial agent clouds long-term future after United trigger extension|
|Zverev to make major final in 2019, predicts Ferrero|
|Canelo, Crawford, Lomachenko and the other pound-for-pound contenders|
|Barcelona boss Valverde admits to Lyon uncertainty|
|Club World Cup: Maverick Quintero gets another chance on the big stage|
|Henderson to miss majority of Ireland´s Six Nations campaign|
|Gentner to play on despite father´s death|
|Just good banter – Australia and India not concerned by Paine-Kohli exchange|
|Titans CB Logan Ryan out for season with broken leg|
|Suns send Trevor Ariza to Wizards for Kelly Oubre, Austin Rivers|
|Mourinho charge for ´improper´ language dismissed|
|Are the Knicks for sale? Depends on the offer, says Dolan|
|Klopp´s Liverpool are vulnerable – Neuer|