Rafa Benitez admits Napoli paid the price for not “finishing off” Genoa in the first half, but remains optimistic.
“The first half was the key for me, as we wanted to score two or three goals and then control it after the break. We didn’t achieve that, we knew they were dangerous and that at 1-0 we were always in the balance,” he told Sky Sport Italia after a 1-1 draw.
“Clearly if we win our games, then it’s easier to think we can finish second. We must understand that this type of match has to be finished off by half-time and that is all.
“The final pass is the most difficult and I do agree that is a problem, as we worked so hard to reach the edge of the box and then it goes wrong. We controlled the game well in the first half, but this final decision makes the difference when it comes to turning pressure into goals.
“Genoa had a good counter-attack after the restart, but didn’t seem able to score after that. Of course we were only 1-0 up and a second goal would’ve changed everything, so we were always in the balance.
“We must learn to be stronger in defence in this type of game and the attack will follow.”
Benitez was asked whether he was worried about being able to rotate the squad for competing in Serie A, the Europa League and the upcoming Coppa Italia Final against Fiorentina.
“I am not worried, I am busy. We have done well so far in dealing with the squad and this isn’t so much an issue of physically losing shape as the experience it takes to better control these games.
“I think he has realised the situation is not bad, but we could’ve done better. Pre-season everyone expected us to do something extraordinary, but put together our positions in Serie A, the Europa League and Coppa Italia Final all point to a positive campaign. Taken individually some might not be happy, but put together it is a good season.”
Napoli play the second leg of their Europa League Round of 32 against Swansea City on Thursday, having drawn 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium.
“I watched the Swansea game yesterday, it had the usual level of intensity. They have a strong enough squad to play against us with intensity too.”