Karim Benzema: France striker from World Cup 2022 due to thigh injury

Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema has scored 37 goals in 97 games for France
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French striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a thigh injury he suffered during training.

Benzema, 34, won the 2022 Ballon d’Or – awarded to the world’s best player – after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga.

“I am very sad for Karim, who made this World Cup a big goal,” said head coach Didier Deschamps.

“In my life I never give up but tonight I have to think about the team like I always do,” Benzema said.

“So the reason tells me to leave my seat to someone who can help our team make a great World Cup.”

The French Football Federation said: “The whole team shares Karim’s grief and wishes him a speedy recovery.”

It said an MRI confirmed the injury, which requires a “three-week recovery period”.

France will face Australia on November 22, Denmark on November 26 and Tunisia on November 30 in Group D.

Deschamps, who must name a replacement for Benzema by Monday, has lost several key players to injury.

Midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were not included in the initial 26-man squad.

Defender Presnel Kimpembe withdrew on Monday after failing to recover from a hamstring strain – he was replaced by Axel Disasi – and on Wednesday striker Christopher Nkunku was ruled out after limping from training. Randal Kolo Muani was called instead.

Defender Raphael Varane aims to be fit after missing Manchester United’s last five games.

United striker Anthony Martial is an option in place of Benzema, who has been struggling with a thigh problem since October and has played less than half an hour in Real’s last six games.

Saturday was his first full practice session since the World Cup squad assembled last week.

Deschamps said: “Despite this new setback, I have full confidence in my team. We will do everything to face the enormous challenge that awaits us.”

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