Benitez defends Napoli squad rotation
Napoli coach Rafa Benitez insists his squad rotation was not to blame for his side’s failure to win for the first time this season against Sassuolo, Serie A's bottom side.
The Spanish coach left Raul Albiol, Miguel Britos, Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne out of his starting XI, but fielded a team he felt should still have come away with all three points against a side beaten 7-0 at home by Inter Milan at the weekend.
As a result of a 1-1 draw, the Azzurri slip two points behind league leaders Roma, but Benitez would not hesitate in naming the same starting XI again.
“We have enough quality in our squad to make changes when we have a lot of games in a short space of time,” Benitez told Sky. “We should have won this game with the players we had.”
Benitez also defended his side from claims they had not taken the game seriously enough, saying: “We just did not play at the level we’ve shown so far, but my team played with the right mentality, it’s just Sassuolo played a good game. Their heavy defeat to Inter was just a one-off. It’s only normal that the odd game does not go the way you want it, but I would not say these are two points lost.”
Marek Hamsik, one of the few regulars in the first five games of the Serie A season to play the full 90 minutes on Wednesday, echoed his coach’s feelings, insisting Sassuolo deserve more praise than his team warrant criticism.
“We’re not angry, but of course we’re not happy,” the Slovakian said. “But it’s not the end of the world, even if we could have done better. Everybody thought these were three easy points, but we knew it would not have been like that, and that’s how it was. We started well, but after we scored, we fell apart.
“This was just a one-off. Sassuolo defended well, changing their tactics, but we only have ourselves to blame.”