Napoli & Rafa Benitez are preparing to be measured as in just five days they play against Olympique Marseille in the UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE and against Juventus of Turin in the next round of Serie A. However, the Madrid born coach has made it clear in the press conference before the game they face in the 'San Paolo' that "we are thinking only of Marseille, this is an important match that stands in our way in this stage of the Champions League, nothing can distract us". The coach knows that the battle for qualification in UCL Group F is linked precisely to overcoming the challenge against Olympique.
"Tomorrow we will do everything possible, maximize the opportunity, because we have to hope for victory if we are to pass the qualifying round. Marseille is a team that has a lot of quality in their squad and are also very strong physically. Now they may be suffering a letdown in terms of results, but this means that as soon as possible they seek redemption by winning this game", warned the coach of SSC Napoli before adding that "we expect the matches against Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal in which we will play to be absolutely everything. But now the only game that matters is the main focus tomorrow. Just because it's the next one, because it is the one most closely in time".
Group F which as many have described as the "group of death" has been further complicated by the tie on points between three of the four teams with only two going through to the next round: "I've said before that you might not as a team with twelve points be able to pass into the group stage, given the circumstances. Therefore, the meeting tomorrow is absolutely critical for us. Honestly, I wish that we played in a group easier than we have in. Especially since we are a Napoli team that features new players, a new coach, with many changes in many facets ... I think it would have been preferable to have had a little more leeway, a little more time to unite the group and face these kinds of challenges. But the fixtures are not chosen; you fall in luck", admitted the Spanish coach. Although he countered quickly that "but it is a nice experience to be able to be measured on an equal footing with large teams, opponents who are enormous and at a high level in Europe - those that make our group so strong. Looking at the positive side, I think it is useful to measure our true strength and growth that we will be able to carry out ".
When accredited media had questioned whether Naples are still at seventy-five percent in performance, Rafa Benitez has answered "yes, it needs some time to grow and to reach a higher level. For me, cohesion is the real key to a team. The balance is really important. You have to do very well both in the offensive and defense to achieve that wholeness. In football, perfection does not really exist, but we have to aspire to approach as it all that we can do. And for this, at least that's my opinion, we still need more time".
"At this point, the template is acquiring the right mindset, but we need a little more conviction. This is precisely what we are working on, we are on the right path and we have to continue like this", continued the Spanish coach, saying later that "I have to find the best way to manage the team, but then they are the players on the field and they have to score more goals than the opponents for a chance to win the game".
The knee injury Mesto sustained takes him away from the pitch for a long period and has caused an 'emergency situation' in the Neapolitan defensive line. Benitez admits that this is really bad news: "we were unlucky with injuries, which are affecting above all the defensive positions. We have some alternatives and perhaps in the future, we can have a player suited to play in multiple positions. We are working with a view to the current situation that we are going through. "
When asked about the possibility of the presence of Higuain in the starting lineup tomorrow, Benitez replied that "Gonzalo is improving a little with each workout. I think that he is now eighty percent and I'm sure he'll be in top form very soon, "the coach of the 'Azzurri' concluded optimistically.
- Florian Lejeune on Rafa Benítez
- 350,000 reasons to keep going
- Rafa Benítez in Calcio Napoli 24
- Video - Benítez: "We have to give a applause to our fans"
- Benítez: "To be here is a great privilege"
- Benítez: "Newcastle has a bright future"
- MBF thanks M53 Ford in Birkenhead
- Rafa's roadtrip around Newcastle
- The MBF make a donation to the Charles Thompson Mission
- Jamaal Lascelles on Rafa Benítez