Cologne - He might not have realised it at the time, but Medhi Benatia wrote a little piece of Bundesliga history by scoring the first goal of the 2015/16 campaign in FC Bayern München’s 5-0 drubbing of Hamburger SV.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the Moroccan international centre-back discusses Bayern’s perfect start to their title defence and explains what he believes makes Douglas Costa such an outstanding acquisition for the club.
bundesliga.com: Medhi Benatia, how does it feel to have scored the first goal of the new Bundesliga campaign?
Medhi Benatia: Oh yes, so it was. I didn’t realise that at the time - really. It’s a nice story. On top of that, it was my team’s first goal after a tough start to the game against Hamburger SV. Hamburg stood firm at the back and wanted to keep it at 0-0 for as long as possible, and we had problems creating chances. If you’re having trouble being a threat in the opposition’s half, you have to have a go from set pieces. This time it worked for us.
bundesliga.com: Can you describe the goal again for us?
Benatia: I just benefited from a great free kick from Xabi Alonso. He struck it really well and I was able to head it in. The goal did us good. I’m happy.
bundesliga.com: Aside from the five goals, what impressed you the most against HSV?
Benatia: That we didn’t let up, but always gave it everything in attack. We played with a lot of passion and character. It was a solid performance and one we only want to build on.
bundesliga.com: Before you scored, you misplaced a pass that led to Xabi Alonso collecting a yellow card. You didn’t let the mistake affect you, though.
Benatia: Yes, that was my mistake and I apologised many times to Xabi. Actually I should have been booked before that, I would have deserved it. Xavi took one for the team, but together we showed a marked improvement for the goal. Mistakes like that happen sometimes, the important thing is we weren’t punished for it.
bundesliga.com: Bayern are already top of the table after Matchday 1. From the outside looking in, it seems like the competition will find it anything but easy pegging you back. Do you agree?
Benatia: It was important in the first game that we laid down a marker and showed that we’ll once again be tough to beat. You can count on that with us. Nonetheless, we can’t make any assumptions and we have to keep our feet on the ground because there are no easy games in the Bundesliga. We definitely have the potential to be champions again, though.
bundesliga.com: On Saturday you visit Hoffenheim. Do you want to lay down another marker at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena?
Benatia: Definitely. We’re going there to win and defend our position at the top of the table. If we take the game seriously and concentrate, I’m sure we’ll come away with the win.
bundesliga.com: A word on new signing Douglas Costa, who really stood out against HSV. What makes him so good?
Benatia: Firstly, Douglas Costa has managed to integrate himself at FC Bayern in record time. He’s still very young and has so much unbelievable potential. You can always sense his passion for the game. His freshness and his qualities make us better. We needed his qualities because we found out last season that we didn’t have any alternatives to Franck [Ribery] or Arjen [Robben] whenever one of them was missing. With his pace and high tempo, he can decide a game on his own. With him, Franck, Arjen, Mario Götze, Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski, we’ve got fantastic potential in attack.
Medhi Benatia was talking to Alexis Menuge