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'Respect' for Roma

Benatia: I’ve worked hard

Mehdi Benatia. 1.90 metres tall, weighing in at 92 kilos. Tough, strong in the tackle. An opponent no striker in the world wants to play against. It’s a good job the 27-year-old Moroccan signed for FC Bayern in the summer. After a few teething troubles Benatia is improving game by game. “We’ve got so many high quality players. You’ve got to fight your way into the first team,” he explained on Monday afternoon ahead of the Champions League return game against his former club AS Roma.

Benatia has made seven appearances for the Reds so far this season. He was in the starting line-up against Roma (7-1), at Gladbach (0-0) and against Dortmund (2-1), a deserved reward for his performances on the training ground. “Unfortunately I picked up a knock early on. But I’ve worked hard and I always try to do my best for my new team when I get the chance,” the new boy explained.

Benatia has started in all three group matches in the Champions League this term. All those games ended in victory, and he won 53 percent of challenges - only Juan Bernat can better that with 61 percent. The central defender is obviously hoping to feature at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night. No question: Playing against his ‘friends’ from Rome is very special indeed.

'They’ll play better this time round'

Benatia was happy to be part of the sensational 7-1 win for FC Bayern in the Eternal City two weeks ago. But he still felt a bit sorry for his former team-mates. “They were very disappointed and annoyed. They’ll play better this time round, I’m sure of that,” he declared. Roma have “lots of dangerous players” like captain Francesco Totti, Gervinho and Miralem Pjanic. “They have the quality to put on a good performance. We respect them,” said Benatia who still stays in touch with many of the Roma players.

However, Benatia is proud and happy to be an FC Bayern player. “Bayern simply have more to offer on the European stage. They are talked about in the same way as Real Madrid and Barcelona,” he added. Roma, on the other hand, are “a work in progress.” That makes comparisons difficult. Benatia does believe FCB must be prepared to face a different Roma on Wednesday: “There isn’t a 7-1 difference between the two clubs.”