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Champions League qualification the priority for Benitez

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez has defended his rotation policy, insisting that UEFA Champions League qualification is the priority.

The Stadio San Paolo outfit visit Roma in the Coppa Italia semi-final first-leg on Wednesday as they continue their quest for a fifth triumph in the competition.

But Benitez is not prepared to jeopardise the club’s chances of qualifying for Europe through Serie A by going all out to win the cup

“The Champions League is our priority, so we have to qualify,” he said. “We can also try to win something this year, though, so I am trying to manage the squad.”

But the Spaniard will be keen to bounce back as soon as possible from a 3-0 league defeat at Atalanta on Sunday.

“Did the team lack motivation at Atalanta? Reasons and results are different things,” he continued. “Failure of the team has not been for their effort.

“If we lose it is not because of a different formation, but it is the players that make the difference.

“The coach’s value is about 20 per cent. Whatever can be changed and gained is done so because he has the squad to do so with.

“Sometimes you have to take risks, when you have a squad that does not have the options of others. I accept the criticism, but I work my own way.

“The championship is important, but we are in the semi-finals of the cup and will try to get to the final.

“We have to manage the squad. We have to make choices, make changes. If we win then everything is alright and if we do not, it’s my fault.

“I hope to see a Napoli that is ready for an important game against a strong team.

“We have to be united. We will look to improve, but the message has to be calm. My team eventually will do better, the work is very good and judgements must be made at the end.”

Tue 4 Feb, 2014
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