Valencia CF mean business this season. Last time around, the Spanish side were tipped by many to reach their third UEFA Champions League final after an impressive autumn showing, only to go out at the last-eight stage to Internazionale FC in the spring.
On the domestic front, Valencia also disappointed, finishing out of the top four in the championship standings. Coach Rafael Benítez sees the coming campaign as a chance to put the slate clean, and is quietly confident that his team will perform to their considerable potential, both in Spain and on the major European stage. Valencia recently came to the Swiss town of Nyon, where UEFA's headquarters are based, for a pre-season training camp on the shores of Lake Geneva. Benítez spoke to uefa.com during their visit:
uefa.com: On a personal note, have you had a summer holiday?
Rafael Benítez: I had a bit of a holiday, but at the same time you are always thinking about your team and ways of improving it. You do have a rest, but you never entirely switch off. However, it is fair to say that I had a few days off.
uefa.com: When you plan pre-season training, do you give priority to the players' fitness above other factors such as team-building or integrating new signings?
Benítez: It is all important. What is good about pre-season training is that it is an opportunity for players to gel. Then there are the physical and tactical aspects which you have to coordinate.
uefa.com: When you go away for a training camp, do you have to set ground rules for players, or are they old enough to look after themselves?
Benítez: I think the players are responsible professionals who are aware that they are representing a big club like Valencia. But there are certain obligations that apply to any professional football, and in that respect, we are like any other club.
uefa.com: After losing against Inter in the Champions League quarter-finals, you criticised the Italian club's style of play. Would you ever compromise your footballing beliefs for the sake of winning matches?
Benítez: I have a lot of respect for Inter. The thing about that match, or both matches, was that we were the better team. They were defensive. But I respect them because they have a great coach and a strong team. It is just that, in my opinion, we were far superior to them over the two legs.
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