A month after triumphantly hoisting the Ballon d’Or to crown his remarkable ascent, Karim Benzema’s dream of winning the World Cup is over before he has even played a match in Qatar. Defending champion France’s World Cup hopes were dealt a huge blow with news that his star striker Benzema is out of the tournament after tearing a muscle in his left thigh during training on Saturday. “Karim Benzema is out of the World Cup,” said the French Football Federation (FFF). “After a quadriceps injury on his left thigh, the Real Madrid striker has to give up his participation in the World Cup.”
Benzema was taking part in his first full training session with Les Bleus when he had to retire after feeling some pain in his left thigh, according to the FFF. “He went for an MRI scan at a hospital (clinic) in Doha, which unfortunately confirmed a tear,” the FFF said, adding that he will need three weeks to recover.
Benzema addressed his fans after the news came out.
“I’ve never given up in my life, but tonight I have to think about the team, like I always have,” Benzema writes on his Instagram account.
“So the reason tells me to give my place to someone who can help our team have a great World Cup. Thank you for all your support.”
France national coach Didier Deschamps said: “I am very sad for Karim who has made this World Cup an important goal.”
Benzema has barely played in recent weeks since winning the Ballon d’Or, playing less than 30 minutes for Madrid and this was his first full training session with France.
France will play Australia in Group D on Tuesday, Denmark four days later and Tunisia on November 30. It’s a crushing blow to Benzema, the fifth Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or and the first since Zinedine Zidane, in 1998. The hugely talented Benzema, who is of Algerian descent, came through Lyon’s famed youth academy and scored the first of his Champions League goals as a daringly gifted 17-year-old. He is now fourth all-time with 86 goals.
Benzema was France’s top goalscorer at the 2014 World Cup, but did not feature in France’s victorious 2018 World Cup campaign as he continued to be banned from the team for his alleged role in a sex tape scandal involving then French teammate Mathieu Valbuena. The fallout from that scandal led to a dramatic fall for Benzema. He faced a nationwide deluge of vitriol and scathing criticism, including on a political level. It led to a lengthy ban from the national team from October 2015 until his recall by Deschamps in May last year.
With his relationship with Deschamps mended, Benzema scored freely for France with 10 goals in 16 games since his return to 37 in total, forming a great partnership with Kylian Mbappé. He won the hearts of the French fans and cemented his place in the affection of Madrid’s equally discerning supporters. Benzema has won five Champions League titles and has moved up to second in Madrid’s all-time goalscoring list with 329 goals.