Rabat – Mehdi Benatia is confident about taking the Atlas Lions all the way in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In an interview with France 24, the captain of the national team has talked about his ambitions for the World Cup, the path that led him to Juventus, and his determination to restore “pride and happiness” to Moroccan fans, as he counts on “the state of mind” of his team.
Benatia is well aware of the challenge he will face competing against Iran, Spain and Portugal in the first round.
“We already know that it’s going to be difficult. When you have the chance to participate in the World Cup, you want to play these kind of games, especially with Spain, which is the best team in the world […] It’s a pride and it’s a beautiful challenge,” the 31-year-old player said.
The Juventus defender added that he sees himself in the finals as he wants to make Moroccans proud of the Atlas Lions. “I want the Moroccan supporter to be happy in the streets of Moscow.”
Moreover, “El Capitano” has faith in his team that he describes as strong and unified. “We have seen the state of mind of the national team during the pre-World Cup friendly games. We have a strong bond and that’s how we help each other,” he explained.
Benatia also talked about his career in Italy and recalled his time at Olympique Marseille (OM), where he is rumored to be returning in the mercato (transfer window).
Earlier this month, several media announced that OM was insisting on recruiting the Atlas Lion.
The French manager of OM, Rudi Garcia, asked for the Juventus defender, remembering his collaboration with AS Roma a few years ago when he was Benatia’s coach. In order to recruit Benatia, OM will have to spend more than EUR 25 million.
“I was formed in Olympique Marseille. I wasn’t given the chance at the time to play with the professionals. When I look back at my career now I think it’s a good thing, I feel good with where I am know,” said the defender.
Benatia, 31, has spent most of his career in Italy, where he has played for Udinese, AS Roma, and Juventus. He joined the latter on loan from German football giant Bayern Munich.
Captain Benatia concluded his interview by picturing himself in the finals. “If I close my eyes, I see myself passing the first round, and winning against France and even Argentina. Everything is possible.”