Wednesday February 19 2014
Benitez: 'Optimistic in Swansea'

Rafa Benitez is “optimistic” Gonzalo Higuain can start for Napoli against Swansea in the Europa League.

The first leg of this Round of 32 fixture kicks off at the Liberty Stadium on Thursday at 20.05 GMT.

“It is going to be very difficult for my players tomorrow, as Swansea play good football and it’ll be a great game,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

There are doubts as to whether Higuain will play after picking up a knock to his back in Sunday’s Serie A victory at Sassuolo.

“I will see how he moves on the field, as I have one more day to evaluate him. I am optimistic, but will talk it over with him and see. Raul Albiol is not 100 per cent either, so we’ll see tomorrow how he’s feeling.

“Swansea are a different side to most in the Premier League, as they play the ball and have the pace and quality of their Spanish players.

“It’s true they changed their manager, but it’s never easy to take on a Premier League side. I don’t know whether Swansea will focus more on domestic challenges or the Europa League, but we do have the slight advantage of knowing their style of football.”

Napoli were hugely disappointed to go out of the Champions League on goal difference, as they finished joint top of the group with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund on 12 points.

“We must continue to believe in the Europa League, as it is an important European competition and gives us the opportunity to win a trophy. To go all the way we’ve got to start by winning tomorrow,” continued Benitez.

“We play every game to win and especially in a two-legged fixture like this it is important to score away from home.

“We are a more solid and balanced side now thanks to hard work and the January arrivals.”

However, Jorginho was surprisingly left off the UEFA squad list following his move from Verona.

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