Felipe Luis will come face to face with former club mate Radamel Falcao tomorrow as unbeaten Chelsea face Manchester United - and he is fully prepared for the daunting task of keeping the goal-scoring machine at bay - a player he believes is even better now than when they played together at Atletico Madrid.
Brazil left-back Luis, 29, a £15.8million signing from the Spanish champions in the summer has the chance to establish himself as first-choice defender after regular left-back Cesar Azpilicueta found himself suspended for the Old Trafford late-afternoon clash following his red card at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
"Obviously Cesar is doing a great job and this season, he is doing fantastically," said Luis.
"He is one of the best defenders in the world and I know it is really difficult to play in his place – Ashley Cole’s place as well. He always kept his level really high. Anytime I get a chance, I do my best to help my team-mates. This is the mentality all players have now. We want to be champions and don’t think as individuals. We only think about the team and maybe, this is what will make us champions."
But first Luis has to perform and convince Jose Mourinho he is the worthy of his place.
"I know he is one of the best managers," he said.
"He is pragmatic. You never know what will happen. When you perhaps don’t expect it, he will give you 90 minutes. You always have to be ready. If you play good, you stay in the team. You never know. You always have to be prepared for when the team needs you. You have to be in the best shape.
"I feel I am at my best age and have a lot of experience. Physically, I feel in my best shape."
How will a fit and ready Luis prepare for the prospect of facing United and Falcao - one of Europe's best strikers?
"I know it’s always a difficult game against Manchester United. They are a big club and have a lot of supporters around the world. The squad is full of fantastic players. The results have not been coming, but in a big game like this, anything can happen. We have to keep playing like we have in the last few games, play really strong in defence and cause a lot of damage on the counter attack.
"I think the pressure will be on both sides, not just all on them. We are in first place in the league and we want to keep it like that. We don’t want to lose the points advantage we have right now at the top of the table. We have a lot of pressure, they have a lot of pressure, so it will be a beautiful game to watch.
"I enjoyed playing alongside Falcao a lot of times in a lot of games," said Luis.
"He is a brilliant striker. He fights for every ball and is probably the best in the world with his head. I know it’s going to be difficult, but not just against him – they have a lot of good players. It will be nice to see him again.
"He is better now for sure. He was injured and changed clubs so he wants more. He is not resting right now. He is a tiger and wants to score more. I think he’s going to be an important player in England – I hope he’s not important on Sunday."
Falcao and Luis played against Chelsea in the 2012 Super Cup final for Atletico when they thrashed the then Champions of Europe 4-1, with Falaco scoring a sensational first half hat-trick.
"That was a nice game, eh?" smiled Luis.
"He scored the three goals in about 30 minutes right?
"He did a lot of good performances for Atletico and had a lot of good seasons there. Falcao is the kind of player that never wants to stop scoring, he has a lot of ambition to be the best striker. I think Manchester United have made a great acquisition.
"I have not given any of my team-mates any advice on how to stop him,
"Our team is prepared for anything, not only Falcao. Manchester United have a lot of dangerous players. We have to be prepared."
One man who may be missing is Chelsea's very own goal machine Diego Costa, who was an unused sub for Atletico in that Super Cup Final match. Apparently, he is still affected by a muscular injury - but Luis is not worried if Costa is sidelined.
"Diego is very important for us, but the team has to be ready for any kind of injury, for when any player is missing. We have a big squad and have to be ready for any situation like this."
Delighted with performance v Maribor?
I think the team had a great game. In defence we were solid and didn’t concede. All the team helped, starting with the attacking players. We know the power have going forward, the fast players we have. They can score any time so we know if don’t concede goals, we will get a lot of chances to score.
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