France World Cup squad 2022: Benzema set for first tournament since 2014

Injured Varane also named in Deschamps' squad despite recovering from injury

France head coach Didier Deschamps speaks during a press conference in Paris after announcing his squad for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. AFP
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Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema is set for his first World Cup appearance since 2014 after France coach Didier Deschamps on Wednesday named his squad for Qatar 2022.

Deschamps selected 25 of a possible 26 players for the tournament, where France will attempt to become the first team to defend their World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has been included despite his recent injury problems, while 36-year-old striker Olivier Giroud was also called up.

Eleven members of the 2018 title-winning squad return, including captain Hugo Lloris and reserve goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, along with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

Benzema, meanwhile, was frozen out of the France team for five-and-a-half years but returned ahead of last summer's European Championship. The striker has since won his first Ballon d'Or for his starring role in Real Madrid's La Liga and Champions League-double winning campaign last season.

Giroud is two goals away from equalling Thierry Henry's national record of 51 but has often been overlooked since Benzema's recall. The former Arsenal and Chelsea forward, now with AC Milan, would become France's oldest outfield player at a World Cup.

"You know tonight, I made some people unhappy. I am well aware of that," Deschamps told TF1. "I made 25 players happy, but they will ... all want to be in the starting 11. But it won't be possible, but it's the strength of the group that will be more important."

Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Presnel Kimpembe was picked despite thigh and Achilles problems which have limited him to five appearances since the start of September.

Varane will have gone a month without playing by the time Les Bleus meet Australia in their opening game of the World Cup on November 22.

"The two cases are different," said Deschamps. "Kimpembe has had a little worry but he'll be available for his club for the last league match on Sunday.

"Varane has a longer-term injury but he too could be available against Australia if everything goes well."

Deschamps has plenty of cover in central defence with William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde and Ibrahima Konate in the squad. Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez can also fill in there.

Raphael Varane has been sidelined with injury since October 22. AP

Mandanda, 37, took the place of AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who has been hampered by a calf injury.

Although a squad packed with talent, France are without first-choice midfield pair Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, leaving Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot as the probable starters.

They will be supported by Monaco's Youssouf Fofana, Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga and Marseille duo Jordan Veretout and Matteo Guendouzi.

France squad for 2022 World Cup:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Alphonse Areola

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Theo Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Ibrahima Konate, Jules Kounde, Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano

Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga, Youssouf Fofana, Matteo Guendouzi, Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni, Jordan Veretout

Forwards: Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Christopher Nkunku

France's Road to Qatar 2022

Updated: November 16, 2022, 9:49 AM