Munich – It can safely be said that FC Bayern München Medhi Benatia has made his mark in Munich. During his first half season in the Bundesliga, the Moroccan defender has more than vindicated Pep Guardiola's decision to make him one of his biggest signings last summer, growing by the game for the record German champions.

In an exclusive interview with, the former Udinese Calcio and AS Roma centre-back gave his views on his first few months in the Bundesliga and the reasons for Bayern's superlative form. Medhi Benatia, could it be said that you've now settled in with your new club?

Medhi Benatia: Absolutely. I was given a positive welcome from the very first day I arrived at the Säbener Straße and I'm thoroughly satisfied with these first five months. I got into my rhythm quickly and am feeling really good as part of this team.

"My main duty is to prevent goals and I've done that pretty well so far" After this first half of the season, FC Bayern are not only autumn champions, but they already have a huge cushion over their nearest rivals. What is the explanation behind this practically perfect Hinrunde?

Benatia: We're playing a very dominant football and we're oozing self-confidence. The quality within the side's huge and we've come through the first half of the season remarkably well, in spite of the many injuries we've had. That says everything about the potential we've got and how much quality's in the squad. You scored your first Bundesliga goal in Augsburg. Was that a particularly special moment of the season for you?

Benatia: I was pleased of course because I know that I can help my team at set-pieces. I showed often enough for Roma that I can score goals, but my main duty is to prevent them and I've done that pretty well so far, although that's also because my understanding with Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng's worked very well. Speaking of that, Bayern have only conceded four goals in 17 games…

Benatia: It's an amazing record and the reward for our excellent daily work. We're particularly proud of that and it's a record we want to defend for as long as we can in the second half of the season. Are you also happy with the number of games you've played?

Benatia: What counts for me the most is the faith the coaching team places in me, and I've had plenty of that. Of course I've had to sit on the bench quite a few times, but in such a great team the competition is so fierce that you've got to accept the coach's decisions. You mustn't forget also that I arrived from a different country, and in that respect I needed a bit of time to adapt. Now I feel I'm fully integrated, though, and if the coach picks me in his starting XI then he knows I'll always give it everything. I feel I've reached 100 per cent of my potential. Of course the style of play in the Bundesliga is far quicker than in Italy, but I'm completely satisfied.

"I always try to fulfil Guardiola's expectations" The only negative experience was the red card you picked up at Manchester City FC in the UEFA Champions League…

Benatia: You could see it that way, but I bounced straight back from it and showed with my goal against Augsburg that I'd put it behind me. That was the best answer I could give. I always try to fulfil Pep Guardiola's expectations and I've done that well on the whole. Do you expect Manuel Neuer to pick up the Ballon d'Or on 12 January?

Benatia: He would certainly deserve it. Manuel is phenomenal. He works incredibly hard every day in training because he always wants more and more. He's a really down-to-earth guy too and he's got a good chance against Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi because he's had an amazing year. He may not be scoring 60 goals a year, but he's conceding very few and he's indispensable for that reason.

Interview by Alexis Menuge