Benzema: Timing of Ribery injury horrible

Ahead of France's World Cup opener against Honduras in Porto Alegre on Sunday, the centre forward laments the loss of the Ballon d'Or nominee from Didier Deschamps's squad
France striker Karim Benzema has lamented the timing of an injury that will keep Franck Ribery from playing at the World Cup.

Although the Bayern Munich winger was initially named in Didier Deschamps's 23-man squad to travel to Brazil, he had to withdraw because of ongoing back trouble.

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Benzema admits the absence of their star player has affected Les Bleus heading into the tournament but says that they can compensate for the loss.

"It's unfortunate for both Franck and us," the Real Madrid forward told the Times of India. "He was so keen to play the World Cup but he picked up this injury at a horrible time. When a player of his calibre is not available, you are bound to feel it.

"Injuries are part and parcel of a professional footballer's life. It was most unfortunate, especially since it involved one of our best players, but we are preparing ourselves in the best possible manner and we all know Franck will be with us, supporting all of us, during the tournament."

France have been handed a draw perceived to be kind, though Benzema is certainly not treating their opponents as pushovers.

He noted: "I am aware of the surprises involved in a World Cup.

"Our coach, the former captain of the World Cup-winning 1998 team, Didier Deschamps, has clearly defined what our roles should be during the first round and the targets we are looking to achieve at the World Cup. We need to qualify from the group first and for that we need to play three very, very good games.

"There are no easy games in a World Cup."