Karim Benzema will miss the World Cup after suffering an injury on the eve of the tournament..
The Real Madrid captain, who missed Les Bleus’ triumph in Russia 2018 due to an ongoing blackmail investigation, was expected to play a significant role this time for Didier Deschamps’ team.
Benzema won the Ballon d’Or last month after a spectacular 2021-22 season in which he scored 44 goals in 46 games for Real Madrid, helping them win LaLiga and the Champions League.
However, he has been plagued by physical setbacks this season, with the most untimely and crushing of all blows arriving on the day Qatar 2022 was set to begin..
Benzema only returned to full training with France on Saturday, following recent muscle pain, but he was unable to complete the squad session due to injury.
He underwent tests, the results of which ruled him out of the tournament.
In a statement, the French Football Federation said: “Karim Benzema has been forced to withdraw from the World Cup due to a thigh injury. Karim’s disappointment is shared by the entire team, who wishes him a speedy recovery.”
The former Lyon striker was troubled by a knee injury earlier this season before missing further games for Madrid due to muscular fatigue in his left quadriceps, with Saturday’s blow appearing to be a recurrence of that.
World Cup champions France will begin their defense against Australia on Tuesday, before facing Denmark and Tunisia in Group D.
Benzema’s absence from the tournament is the latest in a string of major setbacks for France, despite the fact that coach Deschamps also has forward options in Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, and Olivier Giroud.
Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig was forced to withdraw from the squad this week after sustaining knee ligament damage in a training collision with Eduardo Camavinga.
They also lost star midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, both of whom were crucial to Deschamps’ plans.
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