Rafa Benítez in RNE

Rafa Benitez speaks to the Spanish radio program "Radiogaceta de los Deportes" (RNE)


"I don´t speak much to the media? In Italy we talk a lot about football every day. And, as we have several games per week in the various competitions, we give several press conferences (before and after each game). The truth is that Italians like to talk a lot about football and tactics".

"I have a problem with my calf muscle and I cannot work as I would like. It can happen when going up and down the stairs to get on and off the bench....But I have highly qualified technical staff with many Spaniards who work well together and Fabio Pecchia, the assistant manager, who helps me with the Italians. He makes himself heard and moves well in the sidelines, so he will direct the team from the bench until I recover".

"Obviously we cannot choose our opponent in the draw (UEFA Europa League) and there were some very tough teams. Dinamo Moscow is a good team. I think they played a great game last Thursday, though I did not watch it as logically I was focused on our game. They will be a tough opponent for sure but that at this stage of the competition there are no easy teams. The ties are what they are and they will finish how they will finish, ask Villarreal or Sevilla for example, they were the only two Spanish Clubs that were in the draw and now they have to face each other".

"Looking at all of the games in the UEFA Europa League last 16, there are some very complicated ties. For example like Wolfsburg facing Inter or Fiorentina versus Roma. Fiorentina and Roma are doing well in the domestic league, they are two nearby cities with great rivalry, so it will be a very interesting match. These games will give added value to a competition like the 'Europa League".

"In the Serie A and in principle, Juventus, whether it´s due to budget, potential, the squad or even the habit of competing at such a level, has an advantage and their ranking in the table proves it. Roma did well last year and now they are in second place. We are closing the gap and we will try to keep up. Italian teams are very complicated from a tactical point of view and any game that might seem easy can become complicated at any given time. Therefore, we must maintain continuity and regularity, which is the key in any league, but even more so in a league with the special characteristics of the Serie A".

"We are the fifth Club in Italy in terms of budget. Last year was a great season; we won the 'Italian Cup' and got through to the Champions League play off. This season we have won the 'Italian Super Cup ', we are in the semifinals of the 'Italian Cup 'and in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League. Furthermore, in the league we are three points from second place. We have to keep going, trying to reach second place or, if not, ensure at least third place to be able to play Champions League again next year".

"A large part of football is business. But it is a different kind of business. There is the passion that comes from the fans, the people that surround the team. In a normal business that does not usually apply, figures are collected and that is all. In football, figures are collected but in the end everything is affected by the fans and how they feel. I only focus on football. Here in SSC Napoli they have the ability to balance the books every year. An enormous merit, but this does condition the team when it comes to competing for titles. There are teams with much bigger budgets, even balancing them - something that is not too common- and they have more potential than us from the beginning, so we have to do really well to achieve the titles that everybody wants".

"In Italy, this week there will be a delay at the start of the games of 15 minutes by the Players Association because of what is happening with Parma. In Spain however, there is now much more financial control. There is no money for the majority of teams but they have a control which helps them from getting further into debt. This in time guarantees the future of the Clubs".

"I think that each of the three main Spanish teams, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético have defined their personality and their style of play and that has enabled them to get to the top. Barcelona has being doing it very well for many years. Whilst Real Madrid has been recovering little by little and Atlético de Madrid has joined the battle with a lot of hard work. The three styles are nice to see and the three are perfectly valid. People have to understand that not all teams can have the most expensive players, with the most quality and they have to adapt to what they have. The important thing is to play well to get results and achieve objectives. The criterion is different in each place and the important thing is that everyone is happy with what they do and the goals that have been set are achieved".

"I think Isco is a player with an enormous technical ability and is different in a way. One can be capable of playing the ball, passing and controlling the ball well….But if it is only for show, if one does not do it in competition with the pressure from the rivals then that quality is less useful. This is not the case with Isco, he has that capacity. He has great quality and is able to put it into practice in conditions of maximum demand. It is true that he has many similarities with Iniesta. For example he directs the ball very well out of the rival´s reach, he thinks before he makes a move…Though the most important thing for a player is to have his head in the right place to continue working and growing, just like Isco is doing".

"In my experience as a coach in the three competitions I can say that the Italian league is much more tactical. This week, we face Torino with a defence of five that could become three at any moment. Here in Italy you have to adapt and that really enriches you as a coach. In England on the other hand, the classic 1-4-4-2 has changed to play with more forwards, a 4-3-3 it is much more direct and physical, English football is much more physical. Spanish football is something in between, teams are very good tactically but there is also an enormous tactical quality and pace. It includes aspects of the Premier League, in terms of intensity and of Italian football in terms of tactics".

"A leader is not elected. I remember a survey carried out in a specialist magazine where they asked players what they valued the most about a manager. And a high percentage of the players valued knowledge and experience….It can happen quite often that a famous manager arrives and has everyone´s respect from the start and after a few months everyone starts to have doubts. When a player sees that his manager has the ability and helps him to solve game problems then respect grows and also the leadership".

"Here in Naples people really support me, I want to give one hundred percent without a doubt to the very end, to the very last day. When will that day be? I sincerely don’t know, and I am not concerned about that. It could be three years, five or one. But I don´t want to talk about my future, I am interested in the future of the Club and its growth. Everybody knows that my contract is coming to an end, they know we will speak soon, but the most important thing for me now is to focus on the team so that they do well each week and try to win all of our games".