Football World Cup in Qatar: France after Benzema shock: defiance or sadness

Soccer World Cup in Qatar
France after Benzema shock: defiance or sadness

France's top striker Karim Benzema is out for the World Cup.  Photo: Christophe Ena/AP/dpa

France’s top striker Karim Benzema is out for the World Cup. photo

© Christophe Ena/AP/dpa

Kanté, Pogba, Nkunku and now Benzema. The Ballon d’Or winner with its own and special history in France’s national team. Is what happened to Italy, Spain and Germany now threatening?

In the morning hours, the Équipe tricolore received a rude awakening, the news that Superstürmer had lost the World Cup Karim Benzema hit his teammates hard.

“We went to sleep. It was getting late,” said former Bundesliga professional Ibrahima Konaté Sunday the bitter hours: “We got the news the next morning.”

News that hurts, as probably did each of Benzema’s few steps from the hospital into the dark mini-van late on Saturday night in Doha – himself and the fans of the Grande Nation. The next top performer and co-guarantor of success of the Équipe Tricolore falls at the Football World Cup out.

Details about the injury are not known. After N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, the midfield heart of Didier Deschamps’ team, after central defender Presnel Kimpembe and RB Leipzig’s goalscorer Christopher Nkunku So now also Benzema – the defending champion in the personal mishap. “It’s a hard blow,” emphasized Konaté, a former man decker in Leipzig, in a gym at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium that had been converted into a press conference room. “The Qatari curse still hangs over the Les Bleus infirmary,” Liberation said.

Benzema not there in 2018

Ironically Benzema: In 2018 he missed the world title. He was expelled from the national team in 2015 because of an attempted blackmail by a teammate. Benzema only returned in June last year. In the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar he should have earned his 98 caps against Australia on Tuesday, 99 against Denmark next Saturday and 100 against Tunisia on November 30. And now?

The day after the final he will be 35 years old. “He has without a doubt said goodbye to his last big dream: winning the World Cup,” wrote RMC Sport. Benzema himself emphasized that he had never given up in his life, but that evening he had to think about the team. He had already had to miss a few games this season at Real Madrid, but the setback now hits the center forward par excellence much harder.

“Cheer Up Brother”

However, Deschamps refrained from nominating another player before the start of the group phase. “I’m pragmatic, but in fact that’s the reality,” said the coach on Sunday at TF1. “Le Parisien” had previously speculated that Moussa Diaby would be called up from Bayer 04 Leverkusen. For Nkunku, Deschamps had used Randal Kolo Muani from Eintracht Frankfurt from the Bundesliga.

For Benzema, Deschamps is simply “very sorry, he has made this World Cup his big goal”. Not only fellow sufferers like Kimpembe or Nkunku reacted via Instagram, Benzema’s real club colleague Luka Modric also sent a message: “Cheer up, brother.”

Despite is probably better for his still healthy and fit selection colleagues around the now even more important Kylian Mbappé (23) and the now 31-year-old Antoine Griezmann than sadness in the luxurious World Cup camp of the French. An “authentic oasis of native fragrant gardens,” as the five-star resort’s website lyrically puts it. How long they stay there remains to be seen. There are plenty of examples of defending champions who failed early on. In recent years it has become a frightening regularity.

Mbappé now even more in focus

In 2010, 2006 champions Italy were eliminated as the group last without a win. In 2014, Spain came to an early end four years after the title as third in the group. And four years ago it hit the German team. “One wonders if the curse of the defending champions – the last three were eliminated in the first round – isn’t a bit ahead this year,” wrote “Le Monde” with a view to the French.

Because players like endless runner Kanté or the ingenious passer Pogba or just like now super scorer Benzema cannot simply replace a nation like France with what feels like an almost inexhaustible player reservoir. The focus will be all the more on Mbappé, who two and a half years ago in the world champion’s disappointing appearance at the European Championship with the end of the round of 16 against Switzerland could not sweep the team away either. “Kylian knows that, he’s used to the pressure on his shoulders,” said Eduardo Camavinga, who was also only 20, and announced: “We’ll fight for all those who can’t be there.”


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