Arsenal playing best football in Europe, claims Napoli’s Pepe Reina

Napoli v Arsenal: Pepe Reina backs Rafael Benitez to mastermind a way to beat the Gunners by three goals on Wednesday

pepe reina
Pepe Reina joined Liverpool from Villarreal in 2005 Photo: Standard Chartered

Pepe Reina believes Arsenal are playing the best football in Europe at the moment – but has backed Napoli manager Rafael Benitez to plot their downfall on Wednesday night.

The Serie A side must beat Arsenal by three goals to guarantee their last-16 place regardless of the result between Borussia Dortmund and Marseille in the other Champions League Group F fixture.

If we want to stay in the Champions League, it’s necessary to have a magical night and to play the best match possible

Pepe Reina

Benitez was in charge of Liverpool when the Reds were thrilling 5-3 winners against Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals in the 2006/07 campaign.

And Reina, who is currently on a season-long loan from Liverpool, is confident Benitez can conjure a magical night against the Gunners at San Paolo Stadium.

“Winning by three goals against Arsenal is not easy- but it is possible. That is our challenge,” said Reina.

“Rafa has worked on a game plan – and our example is easy! The final between AC Milan and Liverpool is the example to follow. It showed that anything is possible. The atmosphere in or stadium will be worth a goal in itself. After that it’s up to us as players to give everything on the pitch.

“This is our biggest match of the season. If we want to stay in the Champions League, it’s necessary to have a magical night and to play the best match possible.

“Arsenal are probably the team that is playing the best football in Europe right now, but they could easily suffer a bad day. It’s our job to make sure they do.

“I don’t think they will come at us with confidence because they are still not guaranteed to go through.”

Pre-match facts: Napoli v Arsenal

• This is Arsenal’s 16th successive UEFA Champions League campaign; they have advanced from the autumn group stage in the last 13.

• Napoli are still unbeaten in six home games in the competition, winning five and drawing 1-1 with Bayern München on 18 October 2011.

• Arsenal’s 15-game unbeaten away run, which started following a 2-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur on 3 March, was ended by a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on 10 November.

• Napoli suffered their first Serie A home defeat since 12 December 2012 on 23 November, going down 1-0 to Parma FC. They won 13 of the intervening 16 league games at the Stadio San Paolo.

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