Saturday January 11 2014
Benitez: 'Verona tough for Napoli'

Rafa Benitez maintains Napoli are still only at “76 per cent” of their capabilities and has Marek Hamsik back against Verona.

The Serie A clash kicks off on Sunday at 14.00 GMT, click here for a match preview. Despite the fact Verona are newly promoted, only seven points currently separate the sides.

“Our defensive movements are going to be important. I watched many Verona games and we’ll try to stop them,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“We know Verona are doing extremely well, especially on home turf. They have a strong centre-forward in Luca Toni and the players understand the style of football their Coach wants.

“We realise all that, but we must prepare the game with our own ideas, knowing we’ll have to make a few minor adjustments. They have a lot of quality in midfield and make the most of Toni’s characteristics.

“I am aware there is an intense rivalry between these clubs, but I only want to go to Verona to play football.”

Hamsik is back in the side after six weeks out with a recurring foot injury, but Pepe Reina and Valon Behrami are still unavailable.

“Marek is training with the squad and we’ll have to decide whether he can step on to the field in Verona. He can play in a more advanced role or a deeper one. We are also looking for a player who can make the difference, which is tough in January.”

There has been controversy over Behrami’s situation, as Swiss media claim he’ll be out for two months with a micro-fracture, while Napoli continue to maintain it’s not that serious.

“Behrami is injured and he tried hard to get back to full fitness. He is a great professional and there are no problems. In our view everything is clear, but we are consulting a specialist because we simply want one more opinion before deciding together how to proceed. Valon agrees with that approach.

“If I say Napoli are still at 76 per cent, then it means we can improve a great deal, so it’s a positive message. We will all grow together, the club and the squad, also thanks to the transfer market that could be today, in a month or in a year. If I said we were at 100 per cent now, it would be a negative message.

“Over the years I’ve realised there is a strong correlation between revenue and titles. It happens in the Premier League, where the title is only won by Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City. It happens in Spain with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“Over the course of a season, your strength in depth is crucial, as you cannot have the same players in top condition all the way through. In the Champions League it’s different, as you can look to the talents of a few key players and the Coach, but in Serie A the bench is fundamental.

“Lorenzo Insigne? He is physically in good shape, on a par with Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens. He just needs to relax and not worry about when his goal will arrive. I am very satisfied with him because he is learning.”

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