Munich - A spate of niggling injuries contributed to a rather stop-start debut campaign in FC Bayern München colours for Moroccan international captain Medhi Benatia, but he has nevertheless enjoyed some tangible success, namely winning the league title.
After getting his hands on the Meisterschale last weekend, the 28-year-old defender caught up with bundesliga.com to discuss his first season in the Bavarian capital...
bundesliga.com: Medhi Benatia, are you glad the summer holidays are now upon you?
Mehdi Benatia: In recent weeks we've been playing once every three days and now we're just happy to be able to spend time with our families. I've got a game with the Moroccan national team before I can go on holiday, though.
bundesliga.com: What would you say Bayern were lacking in your first season at the club?
Benatia: We tried to give it everything to reach our goals. We've won the Bundesliga title and reached the semi-finals of the [UEFA] Champions League and DFB Cup but we've had unbelievably bad luck with injuries, we've been without world-class players for months on end. There's no team in the world that can compensate for that. They're simply irreplaceable. In spite of that, I still think it's been a good season, though. I'm happy.
bundesliga.com: And on a personal note?
Benatia: I was always having to contend with injuries. More than anything, that made it hard to find my rhythm and that was definitely disappointing. I didn't have any time to prepare during the summer either because I arrived in Munich at the end of August when the season had already started. And during the winter break I had muscular problems, so couldn't fully take part in training. When I was fit, I played to the best of my abilities and fulfilled expectations.
bundesliga.com: You won the first trophy of your career. What does it feel like to be champions?
Benatia: When we became official champions [on Matchday 30], we were at home [not playing that day], so it felt a bit strange. But looking back, it was a fantastic Bundesliga season because we won the title with room to spare without any real wobbles. And the title party - both in the stadium and at Marienplatz - was fantastic.
bundesliga.com: Was going out of the Champions League to Barcelona the biggest disappointment of the season?
Benatia: I came to Munich almost a year ago now to also win the Champions League. Unfortunately we couldn't do that this season. But we came away from the games against Barcelona with our heads held high. We gave everything, but when you're missing four top-class players it's really tough to beat a team like that, not that it should be an excuse. Imagine Barca playing without Neymar, [Lionel] Messi and [Luis] Suarez or Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo - they'd look completely different. But that's normal and it's part and parcel of the game.
bundesliga.com: How would you describe the season: ordinary, good or really good?
Benatia: It's been a good season, and with a bit more luck on the injury front, I think it would have been a very, very good season.
bundesliga.com: Pep Guardiola has always put his trust in you. What has it been like working under him this past year?
Benatia: I've learnt a lot and furthered my development. Pep Guardiola is a coach who's obsessed with details, works meticulously and always gives 100 per cent. I'm happy and proud to be able to work under a coach like him.
Medhi Benatia was talking to Alexis Menage