NEWS
Tuesday August 26 2014
Benitez: 'Not a Napoli tragedy if...'

Rafa Benitez said Napoli “have faith” against Athletic Bilbao, but “it wouldn’t be a tragedy” to go out of the Champions League.

The first leg ended 1-1, meaning the Partenopei need at least a goal at the San Mames tomorrow night to reach the competition proper.

“We have a lot of faith in ourselves and we respect both Athletic Bilbao and the San Mames crowd, but tomorrow night we will play to win,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“In the first leg Athletic Bilbao defended well and often pressed us, but despite that we still had four or five more chances to score. We are certain of our chances of going through. We need to be faster in moving the ball around and increase our pressing game.

“Maybe Athletic have a small advantage in fitness terms, as they have played more competitive games. What worries me about the match? Nothing, from the psychological aspect to the ability to hold out under pressure.

“We have the right players to do well tomorrow night. Athletic won’t just sit back and wait for us, nor play for a 0-0 result. We must focus on scoring a goal.”

It has been said that Napoli’s season would be dubbed a failure before it even begins if they failed to qualify for the Champions League.

“Nothing will change in the project, because at the end of the day there are so many elements to it. Going out would not be a tragedy.

“Athletic Bilbao haven’t been in the Champions League for 16 years, so tomorrow the entire population will be behind them. However, that can put extra pressure on Ernesto Valverde’s men,” noted Benitez.

Gonzalo Higuain scored the equaliser at the San Paolo and he’ll be the key again on Wednesday night.

“Higuain needs to be decisive in every game, because he is one of those players who can make the difference and hurt Athletic Bilbao in the past with Real Madrid.”

Benitez was asked whether Juan Camilo Zuniga would play, but hinted against it.

“In Europe you can’t take everyone on to the bench like in Serie A, but my choices will be tactical and not physical.”

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