France coach Didier Deschamps has claimed that Karim Benzema is ‘paying the price’ for playing too much in recent years after struggling with injuries so far this season, but is confident the Real Madrid forward will be fit in time for Les Bleus’ first game at the World Cup.
Benzema wasn’t part of the France squad that lifted the World Cup trophy in 2018 because of a lengthy absence from international duty in the wake of a 2015 scandal.
But he was recalled by Deschamps ahead of Euro 2020 last year, before then going on to have the best season of his entire career with Real, winning La Liga, the Champions League and eventually laying his hands on the Ballon d’Or.
Benzema has scored almost a goal per game in La Liga this season, but muscle problems and fatigue have limited him to only seven domestic appearances, while he didn’t find the net at all in four Champions League group stage outings for Los Blancos.
“He knows that the World Cup is a very important moment for him. He will do everything, like the whole group, to be ready on November 22,” Deschamps told TF1.
“There was a period where Benzema played too much and is now paying the price with small injuries. But he knows the World Cup is important.”
Deschamps also denied suggestions that Benzema’s recent absences for Real Madrid have been a deliberate attempt to save himself for France.
“It’s not that Benzema did not want to play for Real Madrid, he was just not ready. But I’m sure he will be ready for the World Cup,” the coach added.
Even after six years in the international wilderness, this World Cup is a fifth major tournament for Benzema. Real colleague Eduardo Camavinga is also part of Deschamps’ selection and is going to a senior tournament for the first time in his fledgling career.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who was just 17 when he made his first France appearance in 2020, had admitted that he didn’t know he was in the squad until the public announcement was made.
“I didn’t know anything in the previous hours; nothing until the announcement of the list,” Camavinga told RMC. “When I found out, I was with my family. As the moment approached, I was feeling a small knot in my stomach.
“I was with [Aurelien] Tchouameni on the phone and then Benzema congratulated me.”