Napoli boss Rafa Benitez reveals secrets to success
Napoli manager Rafael Benitez insists that copying Barcelona’s tiki-taka gameplay will not bring the kind of success the Catalan giants have enjoyed over the past decade. Benitez, who has managed Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Chelsea, claims that the short passing style of Barcelona under Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova doesn’t guarantee success for other teams.
In an interview to AS, Benitez explained that copying famous strategies seldom brought success. The Spaniard believes every team needs “balance” rather replicating trademark moves. Benitez, who is considered to be a master tactician, also revealed that Barcelona’s gameplay evolved overtime.
“There have been teams who have played well in other countries, but on a level of collective effectiveness, Barcelona has become a reference for many people, but also a mistake for many others,” Benitez said. “People think that is the only way to play. There is a long path between knocking long balls all the time, and always playing short passes to feet. Balance is the base for a team to work well.
“And there are teams who follow Barca, who lose their balance and play football that many people say is attractive, but they do not win anything. Rayo [Vallecano] had 51 percent possession, and Barca had 49 percent and Barca ended up winning. You need to mix possession and effectiveness. My idea is not pure direct football, nor possession without anything else. It is a mix.”
Benitez has been at the heart of Napoli’s success in Italy. The Spaniard’s tactics have proven to charm of instant success for Napoli. Benitez’s system has helped the Italian club acquire second position in the Serie A table, with six win and a draw from the first seven games. Moreover, Benitez has quickly put together a well-linked team. Benitez refused to accept all the honors, and shared praise with him team and management.
“They finished second last season, nine points behind Juve,” Benitez said. “But that was with a different style to ours. They played with a five-man defence and on the break, based around [Edinson] Cavani. We have changed the style of play, with more possession and control.”
Benitez further revealed that selling Edinson Cavani to Paris Saint-Germain for 64 million Euros was the key to rebuilding the squad during the summers.
“There was a very good management at the sporting level,” Benitez said. “Cavani’s departure does not damage you too much, because it generated a lot [of money to spend]. We were able to make a big investment in [Gonzalo] Higuain, [Raul] Albiol, [Jose] Callejon, [Pepe] Reina... Although Juve is the strongest team because they own their own stadium, we were the team who spent the most on new signings in Italy.”