L’Équipe report in today’s issue that the France national team’s medical staff had doubts on Karim Benzema’s match fitness, and some on the forward’s transparency on the issue, in the lead-up to the thigh muscle injury that now sees him miss out on the World Cup entirely.
The Real Madrid striker had been called up despite suffering from pains in his knee and thigh, and was following a personalised training programme in the lead-up to the opener against Australia on Tuesday. He had only played 26 minutes for his club in the last month, but an encouraging training session on Friday was reason for hope for Les Bleus – before his first full training session on Saturday saw him pick up the quadriceps muscle issue.
An initial ultrasound scan showing no particular issue was cause for optimism after dinner on Saturday, but an MRI scan at the Aspetar centre later confirmed that there was no longer any hope of him appearing at the World Cup.
Benzema had picked up an issue on a slightly different area of the same muscle in a match against Elche on October 19, as confirmed by Real Madrid on October 22. Although there is no reason to doubt the Spaniards’ medical staff, with whom the French staff have a smooth relationship, it does raise the question as to whether he returned to action too soon on November 2 against Celtic.
The match against the Scottish side would see him pick up a hamstring knock that kept him out of action until the World Cup. The medical staff’s attention would then be focused on that particular injury, although an MRI scan in Madrid would show no serious injury, nor would the ultrasound scan underwent with the French team last Monday.
Despite following the personalised programme to the letter, Benzema was reportedly coming off as unsettled and fairly reserved in the last week, which was seen by some as a lack of transparency and which raised concerns among the staff. Similarly, his entourage have questions of their own over how his injury was handled.
GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin