Soccer-Conte issues stinging rebuke to Benitez

Reuters

March 31 (Reuters) - Juventus coach Antonio Conte has issued a stinging rebuke to Napoli coach Rafael Benitez after the two bickered over which team had spent the more money.

Conte, whose side lost 2-0 to Napoli on Sunday, was angry that Benitez had labelled Juventus as the big-spenders in the run-up to the game.

"We were facing a squad which has spent more than 100 million euros ($137.5 million) and which was built to win, not to take part," Conte told reporters.

"We have invested 25 million euros in our team, they have spent more than 100. They have spent in one year what we have spent in three, but they are 17 points behind us and out of Europe.

"People need to get their facts right and not spread misleading messages. I hope Benitez will check his calculations."

Juventus are 11 points clear of AS Roma at the top of Serie A and on course to win their third successive title under Conte.

They are also in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and their stadium will host the final.

Napoli, in their first season under Benitez, are third, a further six points behind Roma, and were knocked out of the Europa League by Porto in the last round.

Benitez made references to Juventus's revenue in the run-up to the game and said they had more strength in depth than Napoli, a remark the Spaniard repeated after the match.

"It's not easy, as we don't have as much strength in depth as Juventus and it becomes even tougher when you see Roma ahead of us aren't making any mistakes," he said.

Napoli were Serie A's biggest spenders in the summer as they splashed out 37 million euros on Gonzalo Higuain, 12 million on Raul Albiol and over nine million each on Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens.

However, they also raked in 64 million euros by selling Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani to Paris St Germain. ($1 = 0.7271 Euros) (Reporting By Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)

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