France striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of the Qatar World Cup after sustaining an injury in training on Saturday. The Real Madrid striker has enjoyed an impressive year and collected the Ballon d’Or last month, so his absence is expected to hurt Les Bleus’ chances this winter.
Benzema has scored five goals and assisted one in seven La Liga appearances so far this season, with his impressive displays over the last 12 months making him one of the first names on the team sheet on the international stage.
However, Didier Deschamps will be without the 34-year-old in the World Cup due to a tear in his left thigh. Benzema was forced to leave France training early on Saturday after sustaining the muscle problem, with it being deemed that the injury will rule him out of Les Bleus’ opener against Australia.
Though it appears that the problem was worse than first feared for the former Lyon star. Benzema has battled with thigh injuries recently and this instance could not come at a worse time for the forward.
France’s official Twitter account confirmed the news, tweeting: “Karim Benzema is forced to give up participating in the World Cup. The whole team shares Karim’s sadness and wishes him a speedy recovery.”
Benzema said in a statement: “In my life I never give up but tonight I have to think about the team like I always do so the reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our team to make a great world cup. Thank you for all your messages of support #GoBlues.”
The race is now on for Deschamps to name a replacement for Benzema. They must name a substitute for the Los Blancos superstar at least 24 hours before their opener against Australia on Tuesday.
Numerous players are facing the tough consequences of a mid-season World Cup being greenlighted, with Senegal’s Sadio Mane and England’s Reece James not able to take part in the competition due to recent injuries sustained at club level in the run-up to the tournament. However, France appear to have been hit the hardest of all nations.
Christopher Nkunku was forced to withdraw from the tournament earlier this week after sustaining an injury following a tackle from Eduardo Camavinga in training. Presnel Kimpembe also had to be replaced following an injury.
France’s chances of retaining the World Cup title were handed two significant blows before the teams were announced too as the ever-reliable midfield partnership of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were both ruled out of the competition after failing to recover from injuries in time. Thus, Real Madrid stars Aurelien Tchouameni and Camavinga will be relied on by Deschamps, with Juventus star Adrien Rabiot also set to be called upon.