On 19 December, the day of his 35th birthday, Karim Benzema announced the end of his international career, after a long adventure made up of ups and downs with the Blues, and marked by this missed World Cup in Qatar due to injury. A package that continues to raise many questions.
• In what state did Karim Benzema arrive with France before the World Cup?
“I spoke to him to get the details. And there is no concern about his situation in relation to our deadlines.” When he reveals his World Cup squad on 9 November on TF1, Didier Deschamps wants to be reassuring. Listening to him, Karim Benzema is ready for what must be one of the last great challenges of his immense career. However, there is some vagueness. Detained by a muscle ache for several weeks, the Ballon d’Or player missed several games with Real Madrid. After playing less than half an hour in the Champions League against Celtic on 2 November, he was forced to sit out his next two Liga games. “He’s very alert. He’s not one to stay on a couch. There’s no risk to take, but there’s no worry about next week,” says Deschamps. Benzema himself shows his serenity on Prime Video, two days after the announcement of the list: “I’ll be fit, physically and mentally ready”. This did not prevent Deschamps from calling on Marcus Thuram as reinforcements from November 14th.
• Why did he miss the World Cup?
It is around 11pm in France when the news drops on November 19th. In training, Benzema felt discomfort in his left quadriceps. The staff let it be known that he will not be present for the Blues’ start against Australia three days later. Accompanied by the Blues doctor, Franck Le Gall, he arrived at the Aspetar medical center in Doha to undergo tests which confirmed what he feared: not only was there a forfeit for the first match, but above all for the whole tournament. His World Cup ends before it even starts. This time it is the left quadriceps that has given out. Before, it was rather the hamstring in his left thigh that was bothering him. “He went for an MRI (…) which unfortunately confirmed an injury to his right femur, which will require a three-week recovery period,” announces the FFF. Benzema also reacts: “In my life I’ve never given up but tonight I have to think about the team as I always have so reason tells me to leave my post to someone who can help our group achieve a great World Cup. Thank you for all your messages of support.”
• Why didn’t Deschamps replace him?
While Fifa allows coaches to make changes to their roster in the event of a serious injury up to the day before entering the tournament, Deschamps has opted not to replace Benzema. While defending his management of the former Lyonnais. “It is obviously a heavy blow, he said on November 20 on the Téléfoot microphone. Karim had done everything (to return), us too. He was in the session and with an almost harmless gesture, he felt a muscle pain (…) I know you’re looking for controversy, but everything was done (for the return of Benzema).It happened in the game,everything was under control,he was taking a step forward.This n It’s not even about an acceleration or a hit.It can happen , it’s never the right time, it’s not a relapse. He has a concern on the other side, which prevents him from staying with us. ” Previously, however, Deschamps had replaced the injured Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku with Axel Disasi and Randal Kolo Muani.
• How was your departure?
As soon as his package was announced, questions arose: did Benzema resume with Real in C1 too early? Did the “muscle fatigue” mentioned in October-November by his club hide something more serious? Has the player told the Blues staff everything about his form? Why not wait a little longer before reinstating him in the Blues group sessions? Benzema is shocked. As explained by RMC Sport, he initially believes he is in a hurry to recover quickly. Deschamps wanted everyone to be ready for the first match against Australia, which wasn’t entirely true for Raphaël Varane, who has only played since the second match against Denmark. Benzema probably wished the coaching staff were more patient with him too. Furthermore, he did not appreciate the conditions of his hasty departure. According to him, he was asked by the Blues staff to leave Doha in the wake of his package. Did he think he could return before the end of the World Cup? It’s a possibility. All this has created a lot of frustration for the Madridista. The fact is that there was no real goodbye when Benzema left early in the morning. Which doesn’t mean he didn’t get along with his teammates.
• Why has the Benzema package become such a bargain?
Even after his departure from Qatar, the Benzema theme continues to be talked about. That he has the gift of the endearing Deschamps, and that’s an understatement. On several occasions, journalists are trying to understand if it is possible to see him return at the end of the competition, in particular for the final on 18 December. Deschamps’ reply before France-Argentina: “Are you spreading the word among foreign journalists? If I don’t answer, you’ll say I’m angry. I have players who have already been injured. Karim is one of them “The last one to be injured was Lucas Hernandez. Since then I have 24 players to coach and you know them. Asking the question against these players, if I may, is nothing short of clumsy, if not a little more” .” Benzema maintains a rather vague communication on his social networks, even if a few hours after the kick-off of the final he posts a clear message of support for the Blues. The next day, he announced his international retirement at the age of 35. The conclusion of a tormented story until the end with the selection.
• Could he have played again in the World Cup?
Benzema’s parcel remains an enigma in the eyes of his clan. Karim Djaziri, historic adviser to the Real player, assures that the attacker could have remained with the French squad during the competition, above all because he has not been replaced. Because according to him he could have played at least from the round of 16 against Poland (3-1). On December 27, he posted a message on his Twitter account stating that he had obtained the opinion of specialists to support his version of him. “I put that there but first I consulted three specialists who confirmed the diagnosis that Benzema could be suitable from the eighth to be at least on the bench, assures Djaziri. Why did you ask him to leave so quickly? Left for a few days on vacation in Reunion, before returning to Madrid and resuming training with his club on December 10, Benzema plays again in a friendly on December 15. Which makes the French team say it is impossible to say that they could have played in the quarter-final against England (December 10) and that this calendar confirms that the diagnosis made by the des Bleus medical staff was the right one.
• What did Daniel Riolo say behind the scenes of the Benzema package?
In RMC’s After on Wednesday, RMC Sport columnist and journalist Daniel Riolo revealed the behind-the-scenes look at the Benzema package while criticizing Deschamps’ management and the egos of some executives. “Benzema went to Aspetar, we handled him very badly, he said. Samir Nasri (who criticized the staff’s handling of the Benzema case) was right in what he said. He asked for a little push in training when he didn’t want to, still in his reflection of ‘I know how to handle my body’. He forced more than he should have and injured himself again. The images that circulated on social networks, I had them analyzed by sports doctors. I was told that it was a form of relapse and that having him play in the round of 16 is a risky decision but that he could have been on the bench and even come on in case of extreme necessity, but in the quarterfinals he would have been fully operational”. And add: ” When they leave Benzema and the French team doctor says: ‘okay, you’re injured, you’re leaving’ and we take a plane for him at 6am in the morning… It’s strange how you tell a boy that you call up the French national team: ‘go away at night’ He was gone, hence his silence in the weeks that followed. According to Daniel Riolo, “some of the French team’s players weren’t happy to see him leave: Griezmann, Lloris, Giroud. Mbappé, it was neither hot nor cold. There were managers who weren’t happy to see Benzema leave because he occupied some space”.
• What does the staff of the French team answer?
The day after Daniel Riolo’s revelations, the Blues entourage wanted to shed another light with RMC on Thursday. On the part of the French team, it is explained in particular that it was Benzema who decided to leave Qatar as quickly as possible after his retirement to return to Madrid and that his personal assistant, present in Doha, even struggled to find him a private plane. The French team’s point of view is that the FFF did not leave Benzema to fend for himself and the plane ticket was paid for him. He adds that he could have stayed longer at the Blues’ base camp to say goodbye to his teammates, but that it was his choice for him to join Madrid so quickly. “We weren’t going to wake up all the players at 5am to do Benzema’s honor guard,” said a close friend of the Blues. The entourage of the French team also assures that it was Benzema himself who wanted to speed up his races the day he was injured and that there were communication problems from the previous weeks. For the Blues’ management there was clearly a wolf regarding Benzema’s physical failings.