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Rafa "happy" with Paris Saint-Germain performance despite loss, says squad is ready for Athletico Bilbao

Napoli's manager takes more positives than negatives from his side's performance in yesterday's loss to PSG, and feels his side is more than ready for the challenges to come.

Giuseppe Bellini

Despite a frustrating loss in the last 35 minutes of the match, Rafa Benitez is seeing a lot more good than bad in his squad's performance against Paris Saint-Germain.

"The team worked well both in attack and defense," the Spaniard told reporters after the match. "We played a top level opponent but we showed we have made a step forward.  We have players who can make the difference, I have faith."

It's an understandable feeling. Outside the first 15 minutes or so of the match and the horror show that was Miguel Britos, Napoli outplayed PSG on a whole. If they can keep that kind of performance level up with the whole first-choice squad playing together against Athletic Bilbao, it'll be a lot easier to be confident heading in to that vital Champions League Playoff tie.

Speaking of which, Rafa said that against Bilbao, the partenopei faithful should see "[a] Napoli at a high level. During a World Cup summer it is not easy to prepare, the players come back at different times, but we have good players and others are coming back."

His point about the World Cup making the season prep process more difficult is certainly a valid one. Not having your full squad available until in to August makes trying to install game plans and tactics far more complicated than it needs to be, since key parts of those plans aren't even in the same country.

It's also a factor that could come strongly in to play in this tie; Bilbao's policy of only having players from the Basque region of Spain meant that in this World Cup cycle, they had no representatives in Spain's squad. That's given them more time with their full squad in training, and could give the Spanish side something of an edge to take advantage of in the tie. Hopefully Napoli's preparation has been enough to overcome that, but don't be shocked if it plays a role in this fixture.