Monday April 28 2014
Benitez: 'Optimistic for Coppa'

Rafa Benitez is “optimistic” for Gonzalo Higuain at the Coppa Italia Final and feels there “isn’t such a big difference” between Napoli and Juventus.

The Coach sat down with Piuenne’s Casa Napoli programme for an interview, naturally focusing on this weekend’s Coppa Italia Final against Fiorentina.

“Higuain has started work with the physiotherapists and we’ll see if he can play. I am optimistic,” assured Benitez after Pipita was stretchered off with a bruised tibia against Inter on Saturday.

“I spoke to him, he’s feeling better, even though he still has a long way to go. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.

“It is also positive that we have Christian Maggio back, as he’ll train with the team from the next session.”

It is a one-off Final on Saturday evening at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

“Fiorentina keep the ball well and have character. We can win, but we mustn’t make the mistake of thinking it’ll happen just because we are Napoli.

“Not everyone in the team is 100 per cent, but we are in good shape. We hope to lift the Coppa because people’s evaluation of our season will also depend on that Final at the Olimpico.

“President Aurelio De Laurentiis is very intelligent because he looks beyond the result of a single game or a single season. He wants us to have an even better Champions League than last time.

“We want to build a strong squad and an infrastructure that will allow us to win. The Scudetto? Promising it is impossible,” warned Benitez. “You can win with a club that has a lower revenue, but need a lot of hard work to achieve that result.

“In any case, I don’t think there is such a big difference between Napoli, Roma and Juve. We are closer to them than the points would suggest.”

Marek Hamsik was surprisingly dropped for the 0-0 draw with Inter at the weekend, but came off the bench to make his 300th appearance for the club.

“I think his main strength at the start was the ability to push into the box, where along with Higuain we needed someone else who could score. I had bet he would net 15 goals this season, but the injury kept him out for two months.

“Marek is intelligent and can play in any role, but I think behind the centre-forward he has more of a chance to push forward. The system makes little difference, he has my absolute faith and therefore has freedom to do what he wants.”