France then faced a tough task in defending their World Cup crown Karim Benzema was excluded from the Saturday night event.
The Real Madrid striker tore a muscle in his left thigh during training on Saturday. Benzema is the most recent addition to France’s injury list, which already included regular team members N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Christian Nkunku.
De ma vie je n’ai jamais leave mais ce soir il faut que je pense à l’équipe comme je l’ai toujours fait alors la raison me dit de laisser ma place à quelqu’un qui pourra aider notre groupe à faire une belle Coupe du Monde. Merci pour tous vos messages de soutien 🙌🏼❤️ pic.twitter.com/SBalX0juAH
— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) November 19, 2022
Benzema has been one of the most prolific goalscorers in the world in recent years. Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Real Madrid in 2018, the Frenchman has taken on the role of the team’s central forward and has significantly improved his game.
He scored amazingly 131 goals — nearly 33 per season — for the club between 2018/19 and 2021/22. He almost single-handedly carried an under-performing Real Madrid to the La Liga title in the 2019-20 season, averaging nearly two goals per game.
At that time, Benzema had not played for the national team since October 2015. But his club form made it impossible for French manager Didier Deschamps to exclude him from his plans. Benzema emerged from purgatory last summer and was included in France’s squad for Euro 2020, where he formed a deadly partnership up front with Kylian Mbappé, scoring four goals in the competition, including a brace against Portugal.
Last season was a groundbreaking one for Benzema. He scored 44 goals in all competitions for his club, helping Real Madrid to league title and Champions League glory. The Frenchman scored 15 goals in the Champions League, including consecutive hat-tricks against Chelsea in the round of 16 and Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals.
The Ballon D’Or – awarded to the world’s best footballer – which he received last month was recognition of the level at which he has consistently performed in recent years. But Saturday’s injury ended his chance for an even bigger prize: the World Cup with France.
His team will also be hurt. Without one of the world’s best strikers, France will find it considerably more difficult to retain their title.