Juventus coach Antonio Conte says his side's 2-0 defeat to Napoli on Sunday night should not be surprising in view of the money Rafael Benitez has spent since taking charge.
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The Campania club became only the second side after Fiorentina to defeat the Bianconeri in the league this season, dominating from start to finish at the Stadio San Paolo. They nevertheless trail Juve by 17 points in Serie A and Conte was quick to remind them of how much they had spent to be still so far behind.
"They're out of Europe and they're 17 points behind us, despite spending far more than us," Conte said. "We were up against a side who have spent 100 million euros and were built to win, not just to take part. We only spent 25 million and they've spent more in one year than we have in the past three seasons combined, yet they're still 17 points adrift."
Napoli coach Rafael Benitez did not have the same calculations when he tried to explain the distance between the two clubs in the current standings.
"We still need time," the Spaniard said in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Juve have 300 million euros and a great squad. They didn't have [Carlos] Tevez today, but there was [Daniel Pablo] Osvaldo and then [Mirko] Vucinic on the bench, who are top quality players.
"Whenever Juve lack one first-team regular, there's always another of the same quality to step in."
Napoli have beaten Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Roma, Inter Milan and now Juventus at the Stadio San Paolo, but have also been held to draws by Sassuolo and Chievo.
"It's easy to concentrate when you're up against the big teams," Benitez said. "We've now got to try to do this with the same intensity against other sides. It's not easy to maintain this kind of a level for an entire season."
That is evidenced by the gulf that still separates the two sides after 31 matches, but Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis tweeted: "There were never 20 points between us and there are not 17 now. I'm proud of this Napoli."
Così si gioca ! Non c'erano 20 punti tra noi e loro, non ce ne sono 17. Sono orgoglioso di questo Napoli #ADL— AurelioDeLaurentiis (@ADeLaurentiis) March 30, 2014