Monday, 18th August, 2014

Rafael Benitez is confident his Napoli side can take a big step towards the Champions League group stage when they lock horns with Athletic Bilbao tomorrow in the first leg of their playoff tie.

Benitez led Napoli to third spot in Serie A last term and will now bid to steer the Azzurri through to the group stage of the Champions League by beating Athletic Bilbao, who finished fourth in La Liga last term.

And while Benitez knows a tough task awaits his team, he is confident he has the resources at his disposal to get the job done.

But the Spaniard knows the second leg, which will be played in Spain, will be crucial.


"We will face a great team and the second leg will be in an incredible stadium", Benitez told Marca.


"The [San Mames] crowd is like their 12th man. Athletic's strongest weapon is the group, with players who have been together for many years and have the support of a city that never loses its passion.

"I respect Athletic Bilbao a great deal, but I trust my Napoli. We have players who came in late from World Cup duty, like Gonzalo Higuain, and new players that have yet to adapt to the team but I've seen positive signs.

"My team arrives ready for this tie.

"We have the right mentality and we too can count on great passion."

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