Gimenez primed for Messi duel in Barca v Atleti
Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez knows a cool head will be required when he comes face-to-face with Lionel Messi on Sunday.
Barcelona host Atleti at Camp Nou, with Diego Simeone's side having trimmed their once imposing advantage at LaLiga's summit to five points.
The Rojiblancos' title challenge has been built upon the foundations of a rock solid defence.
Gimenez's alliance with skipper and fellow Uruguay international Diego Godin at centre-back is formidable and Atleti have only been breached 11 times in 26 top-flight matches.
Nevertheless, the 23-year-old knows Messi presents a challenge like no other.
"There are some players who prefer to wait with him and others go all or nothing," he explained in an interview with AS.
"I think that with Messi we have to take a break, because you can have the last-minute dribble where he takes everyone out.
"I think that to face him you need that time to pause because you know that you can be dribbled past at any time. We all know who is the best player in the world.
"As much as you study or play 35 times against him, you know what he is going to do and the result is the same. That makes him not only different; it makes him the best.
"He is class A. With him you know you have to wait for the unexpected."
Anoche sacamos adelante otros puntos importantes. Seguimos nuestro camino pic.twitter.com/s5WVMwazFC-- Jose Maria Gimenez (@JoseMaGimenez13) March 1, 2018
Gimenez and Godin are also more than familiar with their countryman Luis Suarez, who netted Barca's equaliser in the 1-1 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano earlier this season and is set to spearhead Ernesto Valverde's attack once more.
"We are Uruguayans, everyone understands our football and they know what they can expect from a duel between two Uruguayan central defenders against a striker who is also from our country," Gimenez said.
"Luis is the type of player you never want to find [against you] on the pitch.
"Away from the field, he is a very human, humble, simple person. It's not like how you see him on the pitch, always wanting to fight. It is his personality."