Sunday November 10 2013
Benitez: 'Early goal changed everything'

Rafa Benitez admitted Napoli’s plan was wrecked when Juventus scored after two minutes. “It changed everything.”

Fernando Llorente opened the scoring just 120 seconds into the game before Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba rounded out the 3-0 result.

“We were in the locker room analysing the game with the players and the staff. It was a match that needed to be analysed and we covered it in depth,” Benitez told Sky Sport Italia after taking over an hour to speak to the media.

“Obviously starting against a strong side like Juve and going 1-0 down after two minutes changes everything. The team was struggling for 20 minutes, then we got back into it, but those two goals showed the quality at Juventus.

“It’s no consolation, because we lost, but everyone knows we are at 75 per cent and any intelligent person knows Juventus are still very strong.

“It wouldn’t be easy for anyone in this situation with such an early goal, but we fought back and had our chances.

“We needed more possession and to be more dangerous, but above all to show the character and quality we knew we had.”

Benitez was asked about his decision not to man-mark or ‘cage’ Pirlo in the Juventus midfield.

“We know Pirlo has quality, but we can’t play an entire game just for one player. We knew it could be difficult, but we know that in future we can play as we did in the second half.”

Marek Hamsik had a disappointing performance and has been known to struggle in big games.

“I know he is a great player, but football has 11 players in a team, not just one who has to make the difference every time. The team played better after the break and so did Hamsik.”

Benitez and Antonio Conte engaged in some verbal sparring in the lead-up to this match.

“We each have our own way of doing things. I worked in three different countries with different mentalities and believe this is the way to win, whereas he has his view of winning. It’s fine.

“Napoli are growing, as a team and a club, whereas Juventus have been winning for years, so it’s only natural they are considered favourites.”

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