18.08.2016 16:30 - in: The team S

    Benatia: “Eyes on the prize”

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    Medhi Benatia emphasises the importance of winning titles this term ahead of Juventus’ curtain-raiser against Fiorentina

    Medhi Benatia has been a Juventus player for just over a month. Upon joining on loan from Bayern Munich on 15 July, the Morocco international defender immediately made an impression this pre-season, netting twice during the club’s tour of Melbourne and Hong Kong against Tottenham Hotspur and South China.

    Having featured more recently in friendlies against West Ham, Espanyol and the Primavera at Villar Perosa, Benatia, along with everyone else of a Bianconeri persuasion, cannot wait to get the season started in earnest for what would represent his Juventus Stadium debut with the visit of Fiorentina on Saturday evening.

    Summing up his first five weeks at the club to Sky Sport and Mediaset today, the 29-year-old began: “We’ve worked hard and prepared thoroughly. The summer is the perfect time to lay the foundations for the season ahead.

    “We’re happy to be kicking off the campaign this weekend. Expectations are high and, while it may seem on the outside that success will be a formality, we can’t and won’t be taking anything for granted.”

    This mental strength and a responsibility to wrap up results are clearly qualities that have been long associated to the Bianconeri’s success down the years and their importance was certainly not lost on Benatia, who reiterated the club’s aims of achieving great things this term.

    “Whoever joins Juventus has to take on board the fact that this side has a responsibility to win. I came for here for that reason. We want to keep the silverware coming, even if we know it won’t be easy with stiff competition among our opponents. Our main objective is that of claiming a sixth Scudetto, which would see us rewrite the history books.

    “We’ll need to pick up from where we left off at the end of last season and also give something extra in order to dream big in Europe as well. The word ‘dream’ might make it seem like an impossible aim, but I firmly believe that this club and this team are working towards winning it. It will be tough but it needs to be our objective.”

    Moving from the collective qualities to Juve’s individual star talents, Benatia held high hopes for the forwards whilst reserving special praise for club captain Gianluigi Buffon, admitting he has long admired the heroics of the Bianconeri’s long-serving stopper.

    “Up front we’re fortunate to have great players among our ranks. If Higuain and Dybala were to hit the same sort of numbers as last season and we keep things tight at the back, then we’d be making solid steps towards the title.

    “Regarding our rearguard, it’s a pleasure working with such great defenders that you can learn a lot from. Then there’s the captain. I’ve come up against him many times in the past and I’ve always had immense respect for his career and what he stands for. He’s a role model for all youngsters.”

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