Benitez speaks of 'challenge' against 'great manager' at Arsenal in Champions League

Rafa Benitez 02

Rafa Benitez has been speaking about the Champions League draw which pits him against Arsene Wenger - as well as Borussia Dortmund and Marseille.

Arsenal are in the ‘Group of Death’ for this year’s Champions League - as they have been drawn against last year’s finalists Borussia Dortmund, perennial Champions League contenders Marseille and, complete with Gonzalo Higuain, Italian runner-ups Napoli.

It is almost the worst possible draw imaginable, and the only thing Gunners fans can be thankful for is that Marseille were pulled from Pot 2 - and not a team such as Paris Saint-Germain or Shakhtar Donetsk - because then the football gods would really have a lot to answer for.

Arsenal will try their utmost to go into the tournament without fear - but what do their opponents make of it all?

The games with Napoli are, of course, going to have extra spice - mainly because of two or three familiar names and faces.

The Campania outfit are managed by former Liverpool and Chelsea gaffer Rafa Benitez - who of course knows a thing or two about winning in Europe.

Not to mention Pepe Reina is filling the goal and a striker they could have snapped up this summer, if they had not become distracted chasing the golden carrot that is Luis Suarez, leading the line in the form of Higuain.

Napoli snapped up the Argentine instead, and he has already made an impact at the club. Unfortunately that impact was with a pile of rocks off the island of Capri which left him with a nasty jaw injury and a damaged ego.

But while he is expected to bang in the goals - the club have made plenty of big name signings this summer.

Reina, Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Raul Albiol, Pablo Armero and Duvan Zapata have all arrived this summer - which slightly offsets the departures of Hugo Campagnaro and Edinson Cavani.

With the likes of Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne and Christian Maggio already gracing the Stadio San Paulo - they are a formidable force.

But it does not mean for one second that Rafa is taking his upcoming opponents lightly- in fact quite the contrary, according to reports after the game.

Benitez stated of the draw:

"It will be a great challenge for us. Borussia [Dortmund] are a top club, they reached the final last season and they play great football. We faced Arsenal recently in London for the Emirates Cup, so we know them well. They have a great manager who is very experienced at European level.’’

So Benitez is aware of the Arsenal challenge, obviously from his time as a manager in the UK. In fact he and Arsene Wenger had a good relationship, with the Frenchman jumping to his defence when Chelsea fans were getting on his back - and Rafa ranking Wenger above Sir Alex Ferguson as a manager in 2012.

But when these two face off in the Champions’ League Group Stage be sure that those feelings go out the window, as they scrap it out in the ‘Group of Death’.

image: © thesportreview

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