Thursday October 17 2013
Roma-Napoli not decisive, says Benitez

Napoli boss Rafael Benitez has played down the significance of Friday’s Serie A game at leaders Roma.

First will take on second at the Olimpico as the Azzurri, just two points adrift, look to end the capital club’s 100 per cent record.

“If we win in Rome then we will return to Naples and prepare for the Marseille game…” the Spaniard noted this afternoon.

“If we collect three points at Roma then we won’t definitely win the Scudetto. If we don’t win then we will just continue trying to get better.

“I’ve always said that we are working to improve. We are still only at 75 per cent, I’m very satisfied.”

Roma have been the surprise package of the season and they continue to be inspired by veteran captain Francesco Totti.

“Totti is a great player. We have to be defensively aware because he can make the difference. But we won’t put a man on him.

“Roma are a fantastic pressing side and their organisation leaves little space for their opponents. It is no coincidence that they concede few goals. They counter well, but so do we.

“I don’t think Roma will change anything to the way they play. They defend as a team and don’t man mark. They are good at the defensive phase and we just need to find the right space.”

Napoli and Roma are being talked about as challengers to Juventus’ Scudetto crown.

“Juventus are a really strong squad and that should not be forgotten, but we are also there. If we win in Rome then that will prove our strength, but the championship is a marathon.

“We won at Milan even if with a little difficulty. Then we drew at home to Sassuolo. Italian football is hard, but we are optimistic ahead of Roma.”

Turning to team matters, Benitez suggested that Gonzalo Higuain could return to action after injury.

“I’m happy with the returns of Maggio, Albiol and Higuain who are training with the rest of the squad. Albiol and Higuain feel they are at 100 per cent, but we need to evaluate them.

“Zuniga won’t be there, while Armero and Fernandez will join us directly in Rome.”

Napoli squad: Rafael, Reina, Colombo; Albiol, Britos, Cannavaro, Fernandez, Armero, Maggio, Mesto; Behrami, Dzemaili, Hamsik, Inler, Radosevic, Callejon, Mertens; Higuain, Insigne, Pandev, Zapata.