Having played in Italy for a number of years, FC Bayern München defender Medhi Benatia is well aware of the threat posed by Juventus FC ahead of the teams' UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg tie in Munich on Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 28-year-old discusses the lessons learned from the 2-2 draw in the first leg, how Bayern can prevail and his own personal form.
bundesliga.com: Medhi Benatia, how important is this home leg against Juventus in the Champions League?
Medhi Benatia: We want to go a long way in the Champions League. We showed that we're ready for it against Werder Bremen. We feel very good at the moment and want to play well against Juventus.
bundesliga.com: What do you make of the reigning Italian champions?
Benatia: Juventus haven't won the Italian title for the last four years by accident and now they're on course to defend their crown again. They've got world-class players in every position. Juve are one of the best teams in Europe and you shouldn't forget that they reached the Champions League final last season and almost beat Barcelona.
bundesliga.com: Are matches like this one against Juventus the main reason you play football?
Benatia: It'll definitely be a big game and we're all looking forward to it. But we're also looking forward to the upcoming Bundesliga match away to 1. FC Köln. We want to win there and defend our five-point lead over Borussia Dortmund.
bundesliga.com: What will be the key to progressing on Wednesday?
Benatia: To start with we'll need to be full focused and we can't stop putting them under pressure even for a second. And we'll need to play our game as we normally do. Juve will probably be very compact, play defensively and wait for counter-attacks, just like they did in the first leg. We'll need to take our chances and be clinical in front of goal. We want to control and dominate the game, like we did in Turin. But with Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müler and Arjen Robben in such great form, there's no reason to be pessimistic. We've got a good rhythm.
bundesliga.com: What lessons can you learn from the 2-2 draw in the first leg?
Benatia: That we need to play with greater discipline and that we can't afford to think that we're already through for a second, even if we go ahead. Of course, scoring first would be the ideal scenario, but we need to realise that Juve can make us pay for every small mistake we make. We'll really need to be on our guard. A 0-0 or 1-1 draw would be enough for us, but we're not the kind of team to play defensively and go for a draw. We want to have the ball, attack and score goals. We're not going to change our philosophy at all.
bundesliga.com: You have been back from injury for two weeks now. Are you on the right track in terms of fitness?
Benatia: I hope so and I have to say that I feel good. I can play for 90 minutes, no problem, as I did against Bremen. Unfortunately this season I've had a couple of muscle injuries, and regrettably that's part and parcel of our job, but now I'm 100 per cent again. I hope that I can stay injury-free for a while now.