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Jul 15, 2013

Benitez: Napoli can challenge Juve

Napoli boss Rafael Benitez has refuted suggestions that Juventus will be unchallenged in their defence of the Scudetto next season, insisting his side have a real chance of winning their third Serie A title.

• Nesta: Serie A suffering

Benitez had his first look at the Napoli squad last week before travelling to northern Italy for a pre-season camp ahead of the Emirates Cup tournament in London.

The former Chelsea boss is hoping to have an immediate impact after returning to Italy, but former Juve coach Marcelo Lippi believes Benitez's side will be easily ousted by the Old Lady.

"Juventus will win the League," Lippi told La Stampa. "I think the title is already theirs. Conte, as a captain, was a real leader, and he has clearly maintained that as a coach. I always knew he would become a good coach."

Benitez insists Juve should underestimate Napoli at their own peril and predicts the Partenopei to challenge for trophies on all fronts next season.

"Juventus are a strong team and have made waves in the transfer market but there are other teams who can compete for the title and every year is different," he said.

"We will try to be competitive in all competitions - we have the Champions League to compete in and we are strong and equipped.

"In Serie A, there are other teams [who can challenge] such as Inter, Roma, Fiorentina and AC Milan. But we will fight until the end.

"There has been a very positive reaction from fans regarding my arrival and I am very happy with this. My desire is to work hard, give 100 per cent to the club and to make the fans happy."

The Spaniard remained quiet on talk over the future of striker Edinson Cavani, who has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

"I have spoken with Cavani, but I am focused on my job," Benitez added. "If he stays with us, we'll meet again on July 21."

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