L’Équipe report in today’s issue that Karim Benzema’s ongoing fitness issues mean he is still a doubt for France’s opening World Cup fixture, against Australia next Tuesday – despite Didier Deschamps’ assurances when he first unveiled his squad last week.
Having only played 26 minutes for Real Madrid in the last month, the Ballon d’Or winner is suffering from pains in his knee and hamstring. With the France medical staff unsure about the exact nature of the injury, a tailor-made training programme has been worked out – Raphaël Varane being the other player undergoing individual sessions. Benzema is now said to be feeling better, but his fitness status remains an enigma, with the forward himself having given little detail to the press when asked about the injury. No medical tests have been able to identify the precise problem.
It remains to be seen whether that will be enough to start in three days’ time – should Benzema come up short, Olivier Giroud will take his place on the forward line. However, the France staff would rather the former start than come off the bench, if possible.
GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin