France striker Karim Benzema out of World Cup after injury in training

Ballon d'Or winner suffered a muscle tear that will need at least three weeks to recover

Karim Benzema was ruled out of the World Cup after sustaining an injury during a training session. AP
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France striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of the World Cup in Qatar after suffering an injury in training, the French football federation said on Saturday.

The Ballon d'Or winner, who has been struggling with a muscle problem, was forced to leave defending champions France's training session earlier on Saturday.

“Karim Benzema is out of the World Cup,” the French football federation (FFF) said adding that the injury will need at least three weeks to repair.

“After hurting the quadriceps on his left thigh the Real Madrid striker is forced to give up on taking part in the World Cup.”

“He went for an MRI scan in a hospital (clinic) in Doha, which unfortunately confirmed a tear,” the FFF added.

Benzema was taking part in his first full training session with Les Bleus when he had to come off after feeling some pain in his left thigh, the FFF said.

“I am extremely sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective. Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us,” said coach Didier Deschamps in a statement.

The Real Madrid striker has been struggling with a thigh problem since October and has played less than half an hour of football in his club's last six games.

Benzema addressed his fans after the news emerged.

“I’ve never given up in my life but tonight I have to think of the team, as I have always done,” Benzema posted on his Instagram account. “So reason tells me to give my place to someone who can help our squad have a great World Cup. Thanks for all your messages of support.”

Weakened squad still strong

Deschamps has seen his squad riddled with injuries.

Forward Christopher Nkunku was injured just minutes before the end of the team’s last training session on Tuesday evening and replaced in the squad by Randal Kolo Muani on Wednesday.

Deschamps is already missing midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, who helped France win the World Cup four years ago.

He also has an anxious wait to see if his best central defender, Raphael Varane, is fit to face Australia — exactly a month since he limped off for Manchester United with a hamstring injury.

Fellow World Cup winner and central defender Presnel Kimpembe pulled out Monday after failing to sufficiently recover from a six-week layoff following a hamstring injury.

Even without Benzema, France still has a strong attack to face Australia.

France is likely to start with Olivier Giroud as the central striker, flanked by 2018 World Cup star Kylian Mbappe and either Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele or veteran Antoine Griezmann.

Updated: November 20, 2022, 5:03 AM
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