Juventus
    25.01.2018 16:30 - in: Serie A S

    Benatia: “Chievo match will be a battle”

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    Juventus defender, Medhi Benatia, talks Serie A title race, Champions League challenge, the weekend’s action in Verona and more!

    One goal conceded in the last 12 games. If Juventus are only one point behind Napoli, in the Coppa Italia semi-finals and the Champions League last 16, much of the credit must go to the Bianconeri’s backline, back to its usual self.

    At the start of the season, the reigning champions of Italy had made life a little too easy for opposition attacks. Medhi Benatia, who is now a regular starter at centre-back, explains how the whole team has been working to improve their defensive record during today’s interview with Sky Sport and Mediaset.

    KICKING ON WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE

    “Last year we almost won it all, in a spectacular season during which we only lost the Champions League final. After that it is increasingly difficult to start with the same desire and hunger.

    “In the Italian league, however, you cannot defend with four or five players, we had to kick off this campaign with the right attitude, and the coach has found the right words to make sure we returned strong like we always have been. Now we are more compact, more solid, there is great team spirit on behalf of everyone and that is reflected in the results.”

    HIGUAIN: ONE OF A KIND

    “I talked about this with Pipita. Across Europe, there are no players who work quite so hard as him for the team. He understands that at Juventus may be able to score 20 goals and not 36, but win. “He's doing a great job and whether he scores or not does not matter. This applies to him and to all the other forwards. Thanks to their attitude, everything becomes a lot easier for us defenders.”

    SZCZESNY: A SAFE PAIR OF HANDS

    “Like all goalkeepers, he is a bit crazy, but above all he is very talented. He is a modern-day goalkeeper, able to play with his feet and then working with the number one in the world is no small feat. They also have a wonderful relationship off the field and this helps him grow. When Gigi decides to quit he can show everyone his talent.”

    GREATER GAME TIME

    “Now I am playing with great consistency. Last year I never had the chance to play three consecutive games, because of injuries or because I did not deserve to start. When you don’t play for three or four games, it's difficult to find your rhythm.”

    SERIE A TITLE RACE

    “It's a bit early to say that the league has become a two-horse race between ourselves and Napoli. Lazio are doing well and then there are still Inter and Roma in the chasing pack. Right now, clearly, we look at Napoli as our main rival because they are ahead of us and we must do everything we can to finish top of the table at the end of the season.”

    EXPECTING A BATTLE IN VERONA

    “Playing these kinds of games is always difficult. If you face Inter or Roma, the coach does not even need to talk. Everyone is focused and ready to give their best. In games like the one on Saturday you can be led to think that it is easier to get a positive result, but that’s not true. It will be a battle and we will have to be ready on both a physical and mental level.”

    EYES ON EUROPE

    “I always watch the English Premier League and, as a consequence, I also follow Tottenham. They have been doing very well for the last two or three years and we know that they won’t be an easy opponent to face.

    “However, when your objective is to reach the final, you have to win against these teams. Last year we got all the way to Cardiff and this season maybe we are even stronger, so I do not see why we should not be able to reach our targets.”

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