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Head coach Raymond Domenech may just have wrong-footed the pundits again with his expected team selection, potentially dropping Ribery to the bench and installing Benzema has his offensive spearhead.

According to a report in daily sportspaper L’Equipe, Karim Benzema could start France’s crucial World Cup qualifying encounter against Romania on Saturday - while Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery could be benched by head coach Raymond Domenech.

The final training session at Clairefontaine, France’s international base, saw Benzema take up station at the head of a 4-2-3-1 formation, despite being rooted to the bench during les Bleus’ unconvincing 1-0 success over the Faroe Islands, a match in which his replacement, Andre-Pierre Gignac, was widely considered to have excelled.

Certainly more worrying for fans of les Bleus is the news regarding Ribery, who has been an influential figure throughout the qualifying campaign. As well as scoring a goal to instigate a comeback from 2-0 down against Romania 12 months ago, Ribery also grabbed two match-winning goals against Lithuania in the spring, keeping France on course for the World Cup.

However, there would appear to be method behind the decision to bench the Bundesliga-based man. Concerns over his fitness still remain, and ahead of an even more vital qualifier on Wednesday away in Serbia, Domenech does not want to risk his talisman unless he absolutely needs to.

Meanwhile, it is stated that several questions remain in the mind of the coach. Apparently, he has yet to decide whether Eric Abidal or Julien Escude will play in central defence alongside William Gallas, whether Alou Diarra or Jeremy Toulalan plays a holding role alongside Lassana Diarra in midfield and who plays in the wide areas.

Robin Bairner, Goal.com

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