Rafa Benítez in COPE

Statements of Rafa Benítez in 'El Partido de las Doce' (COPE)


On Napoli’s season: "The truth is that Napoli are doing pretty well. At this point we have already won the Italian Super Cup and that was a significant achievement because we beat a high level opponent like Juventus. We are also in the semi-finals of the Italian Cup and we are in a good position after drawing the first leg against Lazio 1-1 away from home. Obviously we still have the second leg to play and we hope we can make it into another final. And we are proud to be in the quarter finals of the UEFA Europa League for the first time since the great Diego Armando Maradonna was at the club 26 years ago".

About Napoli’s Quarter Final opponent in the UEFA Europa League: "Wolfsburg scored four goals against one of the strongest teams in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich. Not many clubs can say they have beaten Bayern this season so Wolfsburg are a team that are doing extremely well. They have invested heavily into their squad so they have a lot of quality players and are competing at a very high level. Obviously it will be difficult to get through to the semi-finals but we’ll use all our strength to try and get there."

On his dismissal against Atalanta: "In my entire career which has spanned more than 670 games I have not even seen a yellow card and I am very respectful with referees. What actually happened was that the referee blew his whistle and I thought it was for full time. But he had actually blown for a decision. I walked on the pitch in front of our bench and then I tried to leave quickly when I realised I had made a mistake. I tried to apologise for my confusion to the fourth official but I was ejected. It was unbelievable really and (the red card was) totally disproportionate to what happened. And the worst part is that it was another unfortunate incident to add to a long list from that match, it left me very very sad. It’s not my style, and it never has been in over 600 games".

About the intense fixture list that lies ahead: "In April we have up to eight games in a row and all of them are crucial fixtures. And if we continue in three different competitions we could even have eight or nine games in May. It is an important time for the club and all my focus is exclusively on Napoli at this moment. It is not the right time to talk about my future because I have to be absolutely focused".

Ten year anniversary of Liverpool’s historic Champions League win in Istanbul: "I was lucky to play a big part in what I believe was one of the greatest ever European finals, it was very emotional. Without doubt it was the most spectacular final I have ever been involved in. I don´t mean it was best or worst in terms of the football played, that can be debated. But it was the most dramatic final that there has ever been in the Champions League".

The challenge against the other big sides in Serie A: "It is true that Juventus and Roma have higher budgets. In some ways Napoli resembles Valencia when I was there or Atletico Madrid today. These are teams with less economic potential but with a great sense of unity. Everyone works together to achieve results and to try and win against teams that are potentially bigger. That's what makes football great".

Chances of an all Italian European Final? "If we reach the final of the UEFA Europa League in Warsaw I do not care who we face. That's the truth because if a team has reached the last two they deserve to be there. The teams that get to the final will be strong and powerful and (if we get there) we will face a tough challenge. But we must go step by step and not think too far ahead because before reaching the final we have to play Wolfsburg. They are a very difficult team to play and it will be complicated, and then we'll see what happens. Playing Sevilla FC in the final would be a great match, but I have always said that an all Italian final would be great. Especially because of the number of teams from this country who have played in the competition".

On Pope Francisco’s recent visit to Naples. "We visited the Holy Father during the final of the Coppa Italia in Rome last year and we talked about football which was a nice surprise. He has very clear ideas in relation to sport. He is a very interesting and kind person who listens to everything you have to say, and it was a very emotional ceremony. And if you speak with anyone who has been in his company this week they will say the same thing. He’s shown what a great human being he is during his visit to Naples, speaking to the most disadvantaged people. He possesses wonderful qualities".