The Spaniard attaches equal importance to both competitions and remains upbeat about Napoli’s prospects despite a 2-2 Serie A draw at home to Inter
Napoli boss Rafael Benitez says he will not prioritise the Europa League over the Coppa Italia, claiming that choosing between the two would be like trying to decide whether one loves their mother or father more.
The Coppa Italia holders remain on course to defend their title after claiming a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their semi-final clash with Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico in midweek.
However, the Partenopei are also through to the last 16 of the Europa League, where they will face Dynamo Moscow, whom they host at the San Paolo on Thursday.
Winning the continental competition would secure Champions League qualification for Napoli, who currently sit third in Serie A, but Benitez is refusing to rank the tournament above the Coppa Italia as his side’s season reaches a pivotal point.
“I will not choose between the two – it is like asking if you love your mother or father more,” he told Mediaset.
Napoli’s hopes of automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League took a blow on Sunday, as they missed the chance to close to within two points of second-placed Roma by drawing 2-2 at home to Inter.
Benitez’s men were two goals up after 63 minutes thanks to strikes from Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain but were pegged back by late efforts from Rodrigo Palacio and Mauro Icardi, who netted with a late penalty.
“I am not annoyed,” the coach added. “We faced a great team like Inter and the team turned in a great performance.
“We gave everything and created so much but we just failed to manage the situation properly in the final minutes. Our goal must be to continue playing like this and creating so many goalscoring chances.
“Napoli pleased me but Inter have great qualities too and we made a mistake with the penalty.”
Benitez also defended his decision to leave in-form forward Manolo Gabbiadini on the bench, claiming the January signing needed a rest.
“He must also adapt to our schedule but that is normal given he came from Sampdoria, who were only playing once a week,” the Spaniard stated.