Challenges for Benitez at Napoli

S.S.C. Napoli made a bold statement of intent by hiring Rafael Benitez. Juventus now will consider them a major contender for real. With all due respect to Walter Mazzarri, Rafael Benitez is a managerial upgrade for Napoli. Aurelio De Laurentiis made a very good decision hiring the Spaniard tactician. Now Benitez can flex his tactical muscles in the most tactical league in Europe. That should be very interesting.

Rafa Benitez challenges at Napoli

Replacing Edison Cavani

78 goals have been scored by Edinson Cavani for SSC Napoli in 104 Serie A matches at a ratio of 0.8 goals per game. After joining from Palermo in 2010. Goran Pandev can’t guarantee you a goal tally of double figures. Bringing the right replacement by Benitez is a must. Higuain is impressive in the league but underachieving in the Champions League. Napoli have the money after Canvani’s sale so they (Benitez) have to decide what type of a striker they want, an established one or young promising talent.


Benitez’s predecessor Mazzarri built this squad based on 3-defenders backline with its variation (3-4-2-1, 3-4-1-2, or 3-5-2) while Benitez likes a back line with 4 defenders. The question is will he convert to a 4 defenders based formation, for which he doesn’t have the full backs required, or if he will keep the current formation and build on it. Buying Belgium winger Dries Mertens and Spanish versatile forward Callejon suggests a formation that contains wingers (4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3). Maggio didn’t deliver same form as a right back with Italy like his right wing-back position with Napoli.


Rafa Benitez should rank his priorities, focusing more on Serie A or try their luck in The Champions League. I am not sure Benitez has the depth in his squad to fight on both fronts yet. Plus the adapting period for the expected formation switch may hinder Napoli at the start of the new season.

PR & Press Conferences

If there is one thing that Rafa Benitez isn’t good at, it will probably be mind games and using press conferences wisely, like his famous “Facts rant toward Alex Ferguson” or his explosive press conference after winning Club World Cup with Inter in Dec 2010 where he criticized Moratti’s handling of club affairs and to reveal his discontent at the lack of transfer funds he received to spend on new players.

Aurelio De Laurentiis is not an easy president to deal with, but now they are having a smooth relation as there is funds for transfers. Actually, maybe this is the time where Benitez will get all his wishes delivered due to Canvani’s sale.

So Benitez should make sure not to touch the wrong buttons during his press conferences.


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