France has been dealt another crushing blow on the eve of the FIFA World Cup, with 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema ruled out of the tournament.
The 34-year-old reportedly suffered a quad injury during a training session on Saturday, just days before France's World Cup campaign is set to get underway against the Socceroos.
Benzema will miss the entire World Cup, a bitter blow for French fans whose national side is already without the star power of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, among an ever-growing injury list.
Having seen limited minutes for Real Madrid over the past few months due to a niggling knee injury, Benzema was nevertheless confident in his fitness ahead of the World Cup.
One of the favourites to win the Golden Boot at the World Cup, Benzema's absence will place even more pressure on French superstar striker Kylian Mbappe.
Christopher Nkunku was ruled out of the World Cup earlier in the week after he suffered an injury in training, No. 2 goalie Mike Maignan has been out since October because of a calf injury and defender Presnel Kimpembe removed himself from national team consideration due to injury.
Centerbacks Jules Kounde and Raphael Varane are also dealing with injuries they sustained during their club seasons, though they hope to play in Qatar.
Benzema was set to make his first World Cup appearance since 2014, after he missed the 2018 tournament that France won after he was dropped from the national team because of extortion allegations against him after he conspired to blackmail a teammate over a sex tape.
He returned to the national team in 2021 after a nearly six-year absence.
Football fans were devastated to hear about the news, which has left France having to rely heavily on its extensive depth in Qatar.
The French nightmare continues with Karim Benzema out of the World Cup with injury. The list of missing stars keep growing. #FIFAWorldCup #QatarWorldCup2022 #Qatar2022 #Qatar #BenzemaOut pic.twitter.com/psxtPEfwUT
— RevSportz (@RevSportz) November 20, 2022
Karim Benzema is out because of injury: “In my life I have never given up… but tonight I have to think of the team as I have always done so reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our group to make a great world cup. Thank you for all your messages of support.” pic.twitter.com/aEamPtLfbq
— Bolarinwa Olajide (@iambolar) November 20, 2022
Karim Benzema missing the World Cup. Absolutely devastated.
— Jason Soutar (@jbsoutar) November 19, 2022
A real shame to hear Karim Benzema will miss the World Cup. Top two in Ballon d’Or standings won’t be in Qatar now
— Ed Aarons (@ed_aarons) November 19, 2022
The Real Madrid forward won the 2022 Ballon d’Or for the best men’s soccer player in the world. Benzema was phenomenal for Real Madrid a season ago as the La Liga giants won their 14th Champions League title.
He scored 15 goals in 12 Champions League matches last season and had 27 goals in 32 La Liga appearances.
Socceroos carrying own injury fears after Karim Benzama ruled out for France
Defender Harry Souttar is adamant he can be removed from Socceroos coach Graham Arnold's worrisome World Cup injury list.
But concerns remain over a key duo ahead of Australia's cup opener against reigning champions France on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT).
Playmaker Ajdin Hrustic (ankle) and winger Martin Boyle (knee) are still battling their respective ailments.
Both have yet to feature in main training when sessions have been open to observers for a brief 15-minute window since they arrived in Qatar.
Boyle and Hrustic have been continuing their rehabilitation away from the main group but Souttar says he's fully recovered from a knee reconstruction.
That followed anterior cruciate ligament damage he suffered in a World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Sydney last November.
The imposing defender spent a year on the sidelines and played just one full senior game for his English championship side Stoke City before landing in Qatar.
"Obviously it was a long 12 months trying to get back fit ... but I feel great," Souttar told reporters.
"I knew it was a bad injury and it was going to mean a long-term one ... the first thought I had was 'right, how do you get fit for the World Cup'."
Souttar's possible partner in central defence, Kye Rowles, has also declared himself ready after suffering a broken foot in late August.
And Souttar was bullish about Boyle's prospects of overcoming a knee injury suffered almost three weeks ago.
"Obviously he has had a little setback," Souttar said.
"But in terms of what he's doing, I think he's looking good."
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