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Five reasons why Benzema will not return to France squad at 2022 World Cup despite making speedy recovery from injury

10:43 GMT 29/11/2022
Karim Benzema
The Ballon d’Or winner is back in training, but he is unlikely to form part of Les Bleus’ bid for glory at Qatar 2022.

Karim Benzema has made impressive progress in his recovery from a thigh injury that initially saw him ruled out of France’s bid for more World Cup glory.

The Real Madrid striker was laid low on the eve of the tournament, forcing Les Bleus to accept that the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner would play no part in their quest to claim back-to-back global crowns.

Benzema has, however, returned to light training with Los Blancos, leading to suggestions that he could be welcomed back into Didier Deschamps’ plans as France have – after wins over Australia and Denmark – already booked their place in the last16 of Qatar 2022.

The 34-year-old would certainly add more firepower to their already star-studded ranks, but here are five reasons why he is unlikely to make a stunning return...

  • Didier Deschamps France

    1. Deschamps will not risk disrupting the dynamic

    Deschamps has said when asked about a possible return for the fearsome No.9: “It’s not something I’m thinking about now. I spoke to Benzema after he left the training camp. I leave it to you if you want to have a debate about it.”

    The France boss is understandably keen to avoid any distractions after seeing his side make serene progress through two games at the 2022 World Cup so far – justifying their standing among the pre-tournament favourites.

    French squads have not always been the most harmonious at previous events, but the class of 2022 is said to be a happy camp and Deschamps is reluctant to make any big decisions that may disrupt that dynamic.

  • Kylian Mbappe France Denmark World Cup

    2. The attack is already up to full speed

    While Benzema’s qualities remain unquestionable, France have no need to welcome him back at present.

    An attacking unit that compromises of Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele – with Antoine Griezmann occupying a deeper role – has been catching the eye.

    Veteran frontman Giroud netted twice in a 4-1 victory over Australia – taking him level with Thierry Henry as his country’s all-time leading goalscorer – while Paris Saint-Saint Germain superstar Mbappe bagged a match-winning brace against Denmark.

    Adding Benzema to that pot could confuse matters and leave Deschamps facing a selection headache that he is eager to avoid.

  • France 2018 World Cup win

    3. Les Bleus succeeded without Benzema in 2018

    France can point to the fact that they have already savoured World Cup glory without relying on Benzema to lead their line.

    The Real Madrid striker found himself in the international wilderness back in 2018, and Les Bleus coped just fine as they blazed a trail to ultimate glory in Russia.

    France’s coaching team will take that success into account when mulling over their options in the present, with others having shown that they are capable of stepping up and filling the void created by absent colleagues.

  • Karim-Benzema

    4. Benzema is not 100% fit

    While Benzema has been cleared to make a return to training, he is still a long way short of full match sharpness.

    His last outing for Madrid came on November 2 against Celtic in the Champions League, while he has not started a game since lining up against Elche in La Liga on October 19.

    He has taken in just 12 appearances in total across the 2022-23 campaign, with a number of fitness issues holding him back, and it is clear that he is not ready to play a prominent role in matches on a stage as big as the World Cup finals.

  • Olivier Giroud France 2022

    5. Benzema’s presence would inhibit other stars

    There is no doubting that, with a prestigious Golden Ball to his name, Benzema is a sporting superstar and a man capable of illuminating Qatar 2022.

    Mbappe has, however, been filling the role of attacking talisman for Deschamps’ side – with three goals to his name so far – and would be forced to share that responsibility if another big personality and presence came in alongside him.

    Giroud would also have to take on more of a support role were Benzema to be drafted back into Les Bleus' squad, which could alter the way they play and deny the 36-year-old frontman the chance to make history for his nation in the Middle East.