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Benzema absence will hurt France's Euro 2016 hopes - Lizarazu

10:03 AM WAT 12/05/2016
Karim Benzema France
The France great believes that Les Bleus will be hampered by the loss of their centre-forward but is hopeful that Antoine Griezmann can continue his fine form for the national side

Bixente Lizarazu fears that Karim Benzema’s absence from France’s Euro 2016 squad will hurt the country’s hopes of glory.

Didier Deschamps will name his party on Thursday evening but the Real Madrid striker will not be present, with the French FA (FFF) having already taking the decision to omit him due to a sex-tape scandal involving Mathieu Valbuena.

The European Championship winner in 2000 believes this will be a difficult burden for a young group to carry.

“On a sporting level, it’s an absence that will weigh heavily on the squad,” he told L’Equipe, "but to ensure that the preparations for the competition are serene, Didier could not have done anything else. 

“We’ll be without out our most talented centre-forward. Of the French players, he’s also the most experienced at the highest level and has just had his best season with his club. When that’s with Real Madrid, that’s something that can’t be ignored.”

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Lizarazu does not believe that all hope is lost, though.

“Fortunately, there is Antoine Griezmann. He can partially offset Benzema’s absence,” he continued. “During the friendlies in March, he took leadership of the attack. Anthony Martial and Kingsley Coman are both young – it would be a mistake to expect too much for them. 

“Olivier Giroud has had an average second half to the season. Although he’s rarely disappointed with France, it remains a point of question.

“As for Andre-Pierre Gignac, he’s deserved his return to the national team but what will he really bring to the Euros? He’s had an excellent season in Mexico but that’s an average league so that’s another question.”

The former Bayern star believes that going all the way will be difficult for France this summer.

“I think it is too soon for them,” he said, "but, I repeat, we will be very strong in 2018 and 2020. And I only hope that I am wrong!”

France won Euro 84 playing on home soil then repeated the trick during World Cup 1998, with Lizarazu part of the squad.