Daniele De Rossi has described Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as "monsters" - but says he would not be afraid of facing either man at World Cup 2014.
The Italy international is currently preparing for his third finals, having been a part of the Azzurri squad that triumphed in Germany in 2006 and the group that sensationally crashed out at the group stage in South Africa four years ago.
However, De Rossi has yet to have the honour of going up against either Argentina or Portugal, something that he would like to rectify in Brazil.
"I've never faced Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in the World Cup," the Roma ace told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Maybe I will have the chance to take on these monsters this year!"
However, De Rossi would be less enamoured with the prospect of having to take on Spain again, as la Roja possess the two greatest midfielders he has ever come across.
"I don't believe that we'll meet any nations other than Brazil, Germany, Argentina or Spain in the semi-finals," the 30-year-old said of Italy's World Cup prospects.
"The stars will be the usual six or seven world-class players. I'm thinking of the likes of Messi and Neymar.
"But also players like [Andrea] Pirlo, [Mesut] Ozil and [Andres] Iniesta, who always manage to pull out that little bit extra. Iniesta and Xavi and are the best I've ever played against."
Italy once again look set to build their attack around engimatic forward Mario Balotelli, who continues to make headlines on and off the field.
De Rossi, though, feels it is unjust that so many people have an opinion on a player that they do know personally.
"One should get to know him in order to judge him - and I know him," the Giallorossi vice-captain reasoned.
"Also every fault he has doesn't go unnoticed, but he's one of the good ones. I've known many egotistical players but he is good-natured."