"After hurting the quadriceps on his left thigh the Real Madrid striker is forced to give up on taking part in the World Cup," French football federation says.
Defending champions France's World Cup hopes have taken a huge blow with the news that star striker Karim Benzema is out of the tournament after tearing a muscle in his left thigh during training.
“Karim Benzema is out of the World Cup,” the French football federation (FFF) said on Saturday.
"After hurting the quadriceps on his left thigh the Real Madrid striker is forced to give up on taking part in the World Cup.”
The 34-year-old Real Madrid striker had been struggling with the injury for some time and had played less than half an hour of football in his club's last six games before the World Cup.
Benzema was participating in his first full training session with Les Bleus when he had to come off after feeling some pain in his left thigh, the FFF said.
“He went for an MRI scan in a hospital (clinic) in Doha, which unfortunately confirmed a tear,” the FFF said, adding that he will need three weeks to recover.
“I'm very sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.
Karim Benzema will miss the World Cup after picking up a thigh injury in training, per multiple sources 💔 pic.twitter.com/3E2NpRQM7A— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 19, 2022
France riddled with injuries
L'Equipe earlier reported that Benzema “felt a sharp muscle pain” in his left thigh in training.
Earlier this week Benzema gave reassuring news in an extract of an interview with L’Equipe’s television channel, which was set to air on Sunday.
“I’m fine. I had a bit of pain but no tear and no serious injury. I could have played (for Madrid) but I wasn’t at 100 percent,” he told L’Equipe’s TV channel this week.
Deschamps has seen his squad riddled with injuries.
Forward Christopher Nkunku was injured just minutes before the end of the team’s last training session on Tuesday evening and replaced in the squad by Randal Kolo Muani on Wednesday.
Deschamps is already missing midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, who helped France win the World Cup four years ago.
Deschamps has an anxious wait to see if his best central defender, Raphael Varane, is fit to face Australia — exactly a month since he limped off for Manchester United with a hamstring injury.
Fellow World Cup winner and central defender Presnel Kimpembe pulled out Monday after failing to sufficiently recover from a six-week layoff following a hamstring injury.
De ma vie je n’ai jamais abandonné 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
Deschamps backup plan
France is likely to start with Olivier Giroud as the central striker, flanked by 2018 World Cup star Kylian Mbappe and either Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele or veteran Antoine Griezmann.
Giroud has scored 49 goals for France, Griezmann has 42 and the 23-year-old Mbappe already has 28. Dembele has been in fine form for Spanish league leader Barcelona this season.
Deschamps has until Monday — the eve of the Australia game — to call up a replacement for Benzema to his 26-player squad.
But Deschamps already has ample forward backup with Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman, Marcus Thuram and Kolo Muani.
Benzema missed 2016 Euro, 2018 World Cup after his involvement in a scandal with his former national teammate Mathieu valbuena.
France coach Didier Deschamps recalled him for last year's European Championship, where he was France's top scorer with four goals.
France faces Australia on Tuesday in Group D, then Denmark four days later and Tunisia on November 30.