Inter midfielder Felipe Melo has no fear of going up against Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, taking confidence from previously beating a side including Lionel Messi.
Roberto Mancini’s side top Serie A after 13 games, two points clear of second-placed Napoli, who they face at the San Paolo on Monday.
The former Galatasaray midfielder will approach the meeting with Higuain – who has scored nine top-flight goals so far this season – by drawing upon his part in Brazil’s victory over Messi’s Argentina six years ago.
“I’ve already won a big match [Brazil against Argentina] – September 6, 2009, Brazil won 3-1,” Melo told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I was playing with Gilberto Silva and it was unforgettable. We beat the best player in the world, Lionel Messi.
“I’m not afraid of anyone. Napoli are more than just one player. We must focus on the entire team.”
Melo has a reputation for a tough style in midfield and was quoted as saying Mario Balotelli had to be “beaten up a bit” in the 1-0 derby win over AC Milan earlier this season.
He feels the comments were not taken with the correct context, but will still pay special attention to Higuain on Monday.
“Those comments [about Mario Balotelli] were taken out of context,” he continued.
“People said I was approving violence. I said that with a smile on my face.
“I said it because Balotelli is a different kind of player, like Higuain. You have to pay special attention to them. That’s why I said that.”