Reina fails late fitness test as Benitez turns to No.2 goalkeeper
Napoli have suffered a blow in the build-up to their pivotal Champions League clash with Arsenal with the news that goalkeeper Pepe Reina has failed a late fitness test.
The Spanish shot-stopper is suffering from a muscle injury and will be forced to sit out the match, with manager Rafa Benitez instead turning to his No.2 keeper Rafael.
Hearing that Pepe Reina has failed a fitness test this morning. Rafael set to start in goal for Napoli tonight vs Arsenal #afc
— David Hytner (@DaveHytner) December 11, 2013
While Reina is arguably not quite the player he was at Liverpool a few years ago, the news still comes as a blow for the Serie A side, who will now be without one of their more experienced Champions League players for a game they have to win, and win handsomely, if they are to make the last 16.
Reina, of course, went all the way to the Champions League final with the Reds in 2007, and he has featured prominently for Napoli this season, making 19 appearances while on loan from the Anfield side.
By contrast, 23-year-old Brazil international Rafael has played just once this season – in Saturday’s 3-3 draws with Udinese, in which Benitez’s side led 2-0 and 3-2 before throwing away the lead.
Arsenal head to Naples needing only a draw to be certain of qualification for the knockout stages of the tournament, while Napoli must win 3-0 to pull off a shock result and send the Gunners packing.
image: © Eric The Fish (2013)