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 By Ben Gladwell
Aug 12, 2014

Rafa Benitez tells fans to play part

Benitez wants the Napoli fans to make some noise against Athletic Bilbao.

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez has called on the club's supporters to help inspire the team to a place in the group stage of the Champions League.

- Benitez: We've been handed a tough task

The Serie A side face Athletic Bilbao in a playoff over two legs, with the first match at their Stadio San Paolo next Tuesday.

A sellout attendance is expected for that game -- and after watching his side lose 2-1 in a home friendly against Paris Saint-Germain in front of a subdued crowd, Benitez urged them to step up their backing.

"I was a bit surprised by the lack of support for us, but then again it was only a friendly," he told a news conference.

"But I know they will be important in helping our players when it matters, and the key against Athletic is going to be the stadium.

"Their fans are always positive and it's like playing against 12 men there -- so we've got to prove that our fans are even stronger."

Benitez said he was concerned about the test the opposition's fans and players would provide in Bilbao, saying: "Athletic have very strong players, and they've been playing together for years. The city gets behind them -- it will be tough."

Former Napoli striker Edinson Cavani was the cause of some of the reaction from the crowd against PSG, with the Uruguay international striker being booed by a section despite scoring over 100 goals in three seasons at the Serie A club.

He nevertheless thanked Napoli in a tweet after the game, saying he would "never forget the beautiful moments spent together with you."

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