Valencia boss Cesare Prandelli has vowed to “dream big” when he faces Barcelona and Lionel Messi for the first time in LaLiga on Saturday.
The Argentina star was in blistering form on Wednesday, hitting a hat-trick as Luis Enrique’s side beat Manchester City 4-0 in the Champions League clash at Camp Nou.
Valencia won the previous meeting between these two sides – a 2-1 league victory at Camp Nou in April – but they have not beaten Barca at Mestalla since a 2-1 win in the Copa del Rey in 2007.
Prandelli, however, is relishing the prospect of trying to take all three points against the Catalans and their in-form number 10 in his first home game in charge of the club.
“Messi is football fantasy. He has it all. It’s an honour to play against Messi,” he said.
“There’s no formula to stop Messi. He’s amazing. I’ll sleep and prepare for the game.
“When you dream, you dream big. Always about victory.”
A double from Mario Suarez gave Prandelli a 2-1 triumph away to Sporting Gijon in his first match in charge since he took charge from Pako Ayestaran this month.
The fomer Italy head coach has challenged his players to show even greater levels of ruthlessness in order to punish any mistakes Barca make.
“When you face a team like Barcelona, you know you’re going to suffer. But during moments of the match, you have to know how to make them suffer,” he said.
“It will be a very difficult match, they’re a very organised team, but we have to stay concentrated throughout the whole game, keep our tactical order and be very quick to hurt them whenever they lose it.”
Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba will miss the game with respective ankle and hamstring problems, but Prandelli does not expect Barca to be unduly affected.
“When you play against a team with so many big players, it doesn’t change your philosophy,” he added. “Pique is an extraordinary player, but Barcelona’s organisation will not change.”