Monk: Napoli among Europe's best
19th February 2014
Garry Monk insists his side are relishing going up against "one of the best clubs" in European football on Thursday night.
Monk's side host Napoli at the Liberty Stadium (8.05pm) in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie.
The Swans hope to build a lead going into the return leg at the Stadio San Paulo a week later, though they face a Napoli side which is currently third in Serie A.
And Monk, who takes in his first European tie in charge since taking over as head coach, accepts it will be a huge challenge for his side.
"They are one of the best teams in Europe. I have watched their matches and they have very good players all the way from the goalkeeper to the attackers," said Monk.
"They are a very powerful team in European football. We will be going up against a very good side, but we believe in ourselves to get a good result."
With Rafa Benitez in the opposing dugout, Monk will pit his wits against one of the most experienced and successful managers in European football.
The 53-year-old has won this competition on two occasions with Valencia (2004) and Chelsea (2013), while he also led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005.
And the Swans head coach is looking forward to his first taste of European football management.
"When we had the draw it was something the whole city was talking about," added Monk. "I've known this was coming up and it is a big occasion for the club and myself.
"Staying in the Premier League is fundamental to us, but a game like this is one to look forward to and enjoy.
"Rafa Benitez is a hugely successful manager who has won some of the biggest trophies in the game. What he achieved at Chelsea - under all that pressure - shows how good a manager he is.
"I didn't expect this opportunity to come along like this, but I've had to prepare the team as much as possible.
"When we had the Everton (FA Cup) game out of the way it was straight onto Napoli.
"This is a game we are really looking forward to - it's a big challenge against one of the best teams on the continent and hopefully we can get a positive result into the second leg."
Monk also confirmed that Spanish international Michu will again miss out with an ankle injury, though he could be in contention for Sunday's Premier League trip to Liverpool.
A decision on Jonjo Shelvey, meanwhile, will be made after tonight's training session as the Swans medical team assess his hamstring problem.