The FIFA World Cup is the biggest stage in football and this year’s tournament has featured some of the best players on the planet including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe. However, this year’s Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema hasn’t yet featured for France due to injury.
The 34-year-old striker was expected to lead the line for France during the tournament in Qatar but has been absent from the squad due to injury. Despite his non-attendance the French national team have still thrived in attack and have been fired to a World Cup final through the great form of all-time leading goalscorer Oliver Giroud, tournament top scorer Kylian Mbappe and Atletico Madrid playmaker Antoine Griezmann.
Benzema is viewed as one of the best strikers of his generation - he is a five-time Champions League winner, four-time La Liga winner and a two-time Copa del Rey winner. He has made 97 appearances for his country and offers vast experience to Deschamps’ side.
But what caused Karim Benzema’s injury and could he make a sensational return in time for the World Cup final against Argentina?
Is Karim Benzema injured?
Karim Benzema has missed the entirety of the World Cup through a thigh injury and he was withdrawn from France’s squad before their opener against Australia. French newspaper L’Equipe claimed that the player appeared unsettled in the build up to France’s World Cup opener, even before his withdrawal was confirmed. The Real Madrid striker was called up to the squad despite suffering from pains in his knee and thigh.
The French striker has struggled for fitness this campaign for Real Madrid and played a total of just 26 minutes in October.
Could Karim Benzema return for France?
Despite pulling out through injury, Karim Benzema could still have a chance of helping Didier Deschamps side in their decisive World Cup final match.
The 34-year-old was named in the France squad for the World Cup and manager Didier Deschamps opted not to replace Benzema on the eve of France’s opening game. Meaning he has worked with just 25 players in Qatar, rather than 26.
Benzema remains listed on the official FIFA squad list for the World Cup and is therefore eligible to return if called upon. The French striker is currently in light training with Real Madrid and Mundo Deportivo reports that he could represent his nation in the final.
What has Didier Deschamps said about a possible return for Benzema?
Didier Deschamps has given no indication of a Karim Benzema return. In an interview after the game the 54-year-old was asked about a possible return for the Real Madrid striker, to which he responded: “I prefer not to answer. Next question. I do apologise.”
Who else is injured for France?
Didier Deschamps has had to contend with a number of injury problems in the build up to the World Cup.
AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan will miss the tournament in Qatar due to injury. The 27-year-old shot-stopper helped guide AC Milan to a league title last year and was expected to compete with Hugo Lloris for a starting spot at this year’s tournament.
PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe is another high profile absence for France. The 27-year-old defender was part of Les Bleus triumphant Russia 2018 campaign and has been a regular fixture in a strong PSG side in recent seasons.
Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and Chelsea star N’Golo Kante are also high profile absentees for France in the upcoming World Cup campaign. The midfield pair were both regular starters in Russia 2018.
RB Leipzig attacker Christopher Nkunku has also been withdrawn from the squad due to injury. The 25-year-old has been a key figure for Marco Rose’s side this season and has scored an impressive 12 goals from 15 games. Nkunku was replaced by fellow Bundesliga star Randal Kolo Muani of Eintracht Frankfurt. The 23-year-old striker helped Nantes to a shock Coupe de France triumph last season.
What is the France squad for Qatar 2022?
Didier Deschamps remains confident that his side will excel in Qatar 2022 and has an immensely strong squad at his disposal. Deschamps said: “I’ve got 25 players in my squad. I’m convinced that I have the efficient number of players to be able to deal with the challenges we face.”
Here is the France squad for Qatar 2022:
- Hugo Lloris - Tottenham Hotspur
- Alphonse Areola - West Ham United
- Steve Mandanda - Stade Rennes
- William Saliba - Arsenal
- Raphael Varane - Manchester United
- Ibrahim Konate - Liverpool
- Axel Diasi - Monaco
- Benjamin Pavard - Bayern Munich
- Dayot Upamecano - Bayern Munich
- Lucas Hernandez - Bayern Munich
- Theo Hernandez - AC Milan
- Jules Kounde - Barcelona
- Eduardo Camavinga - Real Madrid
- Matteo Guendouzi - Marseille
- Adrien Rabiot - Juventus
- Aurelien Tchouameni - Real Madrid
- Jordan Veretout - Marseille
- Youssouf Fofana - Monaco
- Antoine Grizemann - Atletico Madrid
- Oliver Giroud - AC Milan
- Ousmane Dembele - Barcelona
- Kylian Mbappe - PSG
- Kingsley Coman - Bayern Munich
- Randal Kolo Muani - Eintracht Frankfurt
- Marcus Thuram - Borussia Monchengladbach