Tottenham should fear Rafa Benitez's Napoli in the Europa League

Rafa Benitez 3

Tottenham would have fancied their chances of winning the Europa League. That was until Napoli entered the competition.

Andre Villas-Boas would have been a satisfied man after Tottenham's 4-1 win over Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday night.

But if he has designs on winning the second Europa League trophy of his career, he may have to think again.

It is not that Spurs possess an inferior team - they have both the players and squad depth to go all the way in Europe's second-tier competition.

It is more a consideration of Tottenham's opposition - and one man in particular stands out.

Fresh off the disappointment of failing to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League, Rafa Benitez will be desperate to make an impression in Europe this season.

He did so last term, of course, winning the Europa League as "interim" boss at Chelsea.

And he had done so twice before that, winning the same competition with Valencia in 2004 before completing that famous Champions League win with Liverpool in 2005.

Now Benitez is back in the Europa League with Napoli, after their heartbreaking exit at the Champions League group stages - when they became the first team in history to be knocked out with 12 points.

Interestingly, the Spaniard is in the unique position of having the chance to win back-to-back European tournaments for the second time in his career. And what an achievement it would be.

But however difficult that feat may seem, the squad the former Liverpool boss has at his disposal in fact makes it extremely achievable.

In Gonzalo Higuain, Napoli have one of the most clinical strikers on the continent, while Marek Hamsik can provide the creativity in behind the Argentine to unlock most defences around Europe.

Benitez even has his old stalwart Pepe Reina with him if he needs any help during penalty shoot-outs.

Indeed, with such a strong side entering the competition, Tottenham have a lot to fear.

Yet it does not even stop there.

Juventus were also victims of a Champions League group-stage exit and will have to face plying their trade on Thursday nights, too.

What a prospect we have in an all-Italian final being played out between the Old Lady and Napoli.

Villas-Boas will be planning for the worst.

image: © Doha Stadium Plus

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