France’s World Cup hopes have taken a huge blow with the news that star striker Karim Benzema is out of the tournament after tearing a muscle in his left thigh during training on Saturday.
“Karim Benzema is out of the World Cup,” the French soccer federation (FFF) said on Sunday.
“After hurting the quadriceps on his left thigh the Real Madrid striker is forced to give up on taking part in the World Cup.”
Benzema was participating 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.
“He went for an MRI scan in a hospital (clinic) in Doha, which unfortunately confirmed a tear,” the FFF said, adding that he will need three weeks to recover.
“I’m very sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.
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.
The 34-year-old’s return to full training was curtailed by the injury with tests due later Saturday to determine its nature and seriousness, a source close to Les Bleus told the AFP news agency.
L’Equipe reported that Benzema, this year’s winner of the Ballon d’Or, “felt a sharp muscle pain” in his left thigh in training.
This was the first time Benzema had taken part in full training since Didier Deschamps’s squad met up at their French headquarters of Clairefontaine last Monday.
Under FIFA rules, Deschamps can call up a replacement for an injured player until Monday, on the eve of their first game against Australia.
Doubts over Benzema’s fitness were a major headache for Deschamps, already deprived of the services of midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, number two goalkeeper Mike Maignan, defender Presnel Kimpembe and forward Christopher Nkunku.
Benzema had not played an entire match since October 19.
He and Raphael Varane trained apart from the rest of the squad on Thursday during a session open to the media at the home stadium of Qatari champions, Al Sadd.
Manchester United centre-back Varane has not played a game since coming off in tears against Chelsea on October 22.
Source: Al Jazeera
BDST: 1011 HRS, NOV 20, 2022