Rumours surfaced on Thursday that France could recall Karim Benzema for the World Cup final, but Eurosport’s French office denied he is even needed.
The 34-year-old Real Madrid striker suffered a thigh injury on eve of the World Cup in Qatar, and it was assumed that Benzema would miss the whole tournament, despite manager Didier Deschamps not calling up a replacement.
Benzema has now returned to training with his club and Mundo Deportivo suggested he could link up with the French side if Deschamps was keen.
Eurosport France expert, Cyril Morin, though, believed that the rumours could be dismissed out of hand, and would not necessarily make a difference even if they were credible.
He told us: “What is certain, for us, is that Benzema won’t be in the team, not even on the bench. If he’s in Doha, it will be as a spectator.
“We don’t have any information about that, just logical deductions, as Deschamps was upset about the questions around him yesterday.”
Morin thinks that the decision is made easier by France’s reconfiguration on the pitch, integrating Antoine Griezmann further back in a deeper role.
Why should he change?” he asked of Deschamps. “His team has proven how strong it is in this shape, with Griezmann as a quarterback and Kylian Mbappe as the lethal weapon in attack, with Giroud as target-man.
So you’ll have the same structure in the final as a 4-3-3. The only question regarding the starters are will Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano be firm and will Ibrahima Konate overcome Upamecano in the hierarchy after his semi-final performance?”
Morin believes that even having Benzema back on the bench would be a shock.
France has made the final without Benzema being in the group,” he continued. “There’s no debate here. The real surprise would be to have Benzema on the bench. And, according to what we know from Deschamps from 2014, it is very unlikely.”
Morin stated that France have shown enough with their current line-up to know that they can cope without Benzema in the final against Argentina.
We were world champions without him,” he noted. “We won against Argentina, Uruguay, Belgium, Croatia, Australia, Peru, Denmark, Poland, England, and Morocco without him.
So we’re pretty confident about the fact that France can play without Benzema. And, more importantly, win without Benzema.
Having the best in the world is always good, of course, but this World Cup has proven that the French national team doesn’t rely on one player.