Rafael Benitez has hailed Napoli’s Supercoppa Italia success over Juventus in Doha as the most important win of his career.
The Spaniard succeeded Walter Mazzarri as head coach of the Azzurri just 12 months ago, and this match against the Bianconeri was a reward for leading his side to Coppa Italia glory over Fiorentina in May. It also provided them the opportunity to avenge their 2012 defeat against the same opponents, then led by Massimo Carrera who’s side that time ran out 4-2 victors in Beijing.
And the Serie A champions were in the mood for another triumph when Carlos Tevez gave them a fifth-minute lead in Qatar on Monday, but compatriot Gonzalo Higuain levelled midway through the second half. Both Argentine stars were again on target in extra time: Juventus regained the lead on 106 minutes, but were pegged back with just two minutes left on the clock.
The penalty shootout was a dramatic affair which was won 6-5 by the Neapolitans, with goalkeeper Rafael saving the crucial spot-kick from Simone Padoin. This is the first time they have won the Supercoppa since their great side of Diego Maradona in 1990 – again, against the same opposition – and Benitez later called this success the most important of his entire career.
“This was the greatest victory, I have already said that tonight’s win is the most important one,” he told the club’s official website following their dramatic win. “This is my 12th trophy and I’m happy to celebrate this record with all the club, the team and with all the Neapolitan fans who have always given us an important boost and support. I would like to devote this success to them.”
This is a huge claim by a man who broke the Barcelona and Real Madrid stranglehold in Spain to win La Liga title with Valencia twice – in 2002 and in 2004 – before leaving for Liverpool whom he led to UEFA Champions League glory in Istanbul in 2005. And when at Chelsea, despite the opposition of the club’s support to his appointment, he won the UEFA Europa League in 2013.
Is this really Benitez’s most important success, or did he make the claim whilst lost in the moment? Let us know what you think in the discussion below.