Karim Benzema Drops Out of France's 2022 World Cup Squad With Injury


The hits keep coming for France.

Star striker Karim Benzema had to drop out of France’s 26-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar following a hit in the quadriceps of his left thigh. He won’t be able to participate in the tournament, the team announced Saturday.

Before being officially ruled out, there was hope that Benzema would only miss France’s Group D opener against Australia on Tuesday, Nov. 22 and return for the last two group stage games against Denmark and Tunisia, but that is no longer the case.

As has become customary for manager Didier Deschamps, he now has until Monday to find a replacement to call up. Along with Benzema, France will not have N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Mike Maignan (AC Milan), Presnel Kimpembé (Paris Saint-Germain) and Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig) in the squad due to respective injuries.

Benzema was not in the 2018 World Cup squad when France went on to defeat Croatia 4-2 in the final for its second ever win in the tournament after being banned indefinitely from the team in 2015. The now-34-year-old striker was banned after a blackmail case he was involved in, but he returned to the squad during the 2020 UEFA Euros that was held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Real Madrid star just came off one of his best ever campaigns at the club level that led to his first ever Ballon d’Or win in October. 

In his absence, Kylian Mbappé (PSG) will still have a prominent role in the starting XI while Olivier Giroud (AC Milan) could presumably step into Benzema’s spot as a No. 9. Giroud, 36, is just three goals away from passing Thierry Henry for the most goals all-time for the French national team. 

Though Giroud did not score any goals in the seven matches France played in 2018, he’ll need to step up in Qatar if he wants to help his nation avoid the “World Cup curse” that has plagued recent European winners. After France won the 1998 World Cup, it failed to advance past the group stage in 2002, and the same has happened to Italy (2006/2010), Spain (2010/2014) and Germany (2014/2018).

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