Napoli aimed to move a step closer to Europa League glory against Dynamo Moscow with the future of coach Rafael Benitez still much up in the air. Undoubtedly, Benitez’s men progressed quite will to the last 16 of Europe’s secondary club competition with a 5-0 aggregate win over Trabzonspor.
They will head to Russia where they are going to play against Dynamo Moscow for the return leg of Champions League tournament, scheduled on Thursday (19/3). Despite dropping out of Serie A’s top three last weekend, Napoli are contenders to qualify for Champions League.
Napoli have a two-goal lead in the stalemate with Inter, which came on the back of a 1-0 loss to Torino and a 1-1 draw with Lazio. The result leapfrogged Napoli into third place at the weekend. And they cannot dismiss the probability that they will struggle in battling Dynamo side which currently in excellent form. Dynamo are yet to taste defeat in the Europe League and have not lost in any competition since November 2.
Gargano and Koulibaly will make the bench because they are injured, while Strinic is out too, since he is not included in the UEFA’s list of players.
Take a brief look to the Russian side, Dynamo Moscow will be without their attacking midfielder Artur Yusupov due to suspension. However, Napoli will still need to be wary of a forward line of Dynamo with plenty of talents. They have both striker Kevin Kuranyi and midfielder Aleksey Ionov on the pitch, who have netted four goals in the Europa League season. And, with Napoli looking vulnerable at the back, Dynamo have a great opportunity to put themselves in a position to progress and keep their hopes of a first European trophy.
A top-three finish is not Napoli’s only path back to Champions League. They are presently listed as second-favorites to win the tournament, with Benitez’s reputation as a cup specialist, no doubt playing some part in the prediction. While on the other hand, former Liverpool, Inter and Chelsea coach, Benitez, does not appear to be fully committed to Napoli.
“I’m in Naples and I’m concentrated on Napoli,” he said. “But in the future I cannot predict what will happen. In the past I have coached in Spain, England and Italy. There’d have to be the right offer, at the right time, with the right team,” he continued.
Benitez will probably decide his future in April, do not unsettle a team that has looked shaky in recent weeks.