Rotherham United have won just one of their 10 Sky Bet Championship games ahead of tomorrow’s visit of third-top Newcastle United.
But Millers boss Alan Stubbs is relishing the challenge against the ex-Liverpool boss in the final match before the international break.
“It’s me pitting my wits against a Champions League winner,” said the former Sunderland defender, who took over at the New York Stadium after leaving Scottish Cup winners Hibs in the summer.
“There’s the Liverpool and Everton rivalry as well.
“I’ve come across Rafa on a few occasions and he’s a really nice guy; very humble, very intelligent.
“You only have to listen to some of his ex-players talk to know that, tactically, he’s a fantastic manager.
“I’m hoping on Saturday he doesn’t get his tactics right and I get mine right.”
The game is a sell-out and Stubbs enthused: “It’s great. This is what it’s all about.
“I don’t think anyone could have envisaged the likes of a Newcastle coming to New York Stadium this season because everybody would have thought they’d been a Premier League club.
“When a team’s spent over £50million on players just this season, I think that tells you what their aspirations are.
“They’ll be there or thereabouts. I think they’re everybody’s favourites to go up this season. I can see why.”
Meanwhile, defender Jamaal Lascelles has hailed the “heart and desire” in Newcastle’s dressing room.
Rafa Benitez’s side scored two injury-time goals to beat Norwich 4-3 on Wednesday night.
And captain Lascelles insisted: “It just shows how determined the boys are. We don’t just come with talent, we’ve got heart and desire as well. We dug deep and we came through a tough game.”
On the Rotherham game, he added: “It’ll be a different challenge, probably more of a direct, physical game. It will be a tough place to go.”