Why Karim Benzema won’t represent France anytime soon despite Real Madrid’s brilliance

Why Karim Benzema won't represent France anytime soon despite Real Madrid's brilliance

Mention France vs Ukraine to Karim Benzema, and you will see his eyes twinkle. The expression on his face will light up. In November 2013, Benzema played his all-time best game for Blues in a 3-0 win over Ukraine in which he scored France’s second goal. That night at the Stade de France he was excellent and helped send his team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
More than seven years later, Blues drew 1-1 with Ukraine at Stade de France on Wednesday in Europe’s official start to World Cup qualifiers, but Benzema was not involved as his multi-year feud with the coach Didier Deschamps is still raging. He was probably in his big house in Moraleja, a posh suburb of Madrid, and probably didn’t watch the game either. He’s not interested.

Still, the debate over Benzema’s lack of inclusion with the national team continues to rumble, and Wednesday’s lack of attacking prowess – 18 shots, just three on target – by his compatriots will do nothing to calm the noise given the 33 Years. the form of the former at Real Madrid at the moment.

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Benzema is currently the best French striker in world football apart from Kylian Mbappe. He’s in incredible form with eight goals in his last six games in all competitions. Almost alone, he took Real Madrid to the Champions League quarter-finals and within six points of Atletico Madrid in the La Liga title race. He’s better than the forwards Deschamps called up for France – Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Wissam Ben Yedder – during this break as well.

So it’s no surprise that Real manager and France legend Zinedine Zidane is struggling with his No.9 not making the national team. “I don’t understand it and a lot of people don’t understand it either,” Zizou said after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Celta Vigo in which Benzema scored twice.

It was not the first time that Zidane has publicly shown his displeasure with Deschamps’ omission of Benzema. In January, he said: “Benzema’s return to the national team would be a good thing. “Last August, Zidane was even clearer:” On the football side, Karim is simply the best, so yes, he deserves his place with France. He loves the national team, he always wanted to appear. I don’t know what happened internally. , but when it comes to football, there is no debate. ”

But these words have no impact. Deschamps has not recalled “Benz” since his 81st and last selection on October 8, 2015, a friendly match against Armenia in which he scored a brace, his 26th and 27th goals for his country.

Deschamps watches almost every Real Madrid game to follow the performances of Ferland Mendy and Raphael Varane, so it’s fair to assume he sees Benzema playing every weekend as well. They had such a strong relationship. In his first three years at the helm, the head coach built everything around the former Lyon striker, and Benzema paid him well. He was a driving force for the team helping them qualify for the 2014 World Cup. He shone in Brazil and carried the team to the quarter-finals, putting in a strong performance against eventual German champions despite the defeat.

But none of that matters as Deschamps effectively banned Benzema from the national team after a sex tape and blackmail scandal with teammate Mathieu Valbuena erupted in 2015. Benzema is accused of playing a role in blackmailing his former teammate – allegations Benzema denies and says he will prove false in a trial which is due to start at some point in 2021. Guilty or innocent, the incident has tainted his reputation. After Deschamps ditched Benzema during the investigation, the player accused him in 2016 of “yielding to pressure from a racist part of France” by agreeing to let him out of the squad for Euro 2016.

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Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens react to Real Madrid’s last minute victory over Elche.

Shortly after Benzema made this statement, Deschamps’ vacation home was labeled with the words’ racist ‘and in some ways it was the likely point of no return.

“There were some very unpleasant moments that went beyond the context of football, when it happened in the private and personal sphere. Am I thinking of the tag? Yes. I can never forget it. Then it went too far. It was violent, inappropriate and unacceptable, ”Deschamps explained again in the summer of 2020.

More and more people in France right now, like former France captain Jean-Michel Larque, are asking Deschamps to forgive Benzema and call him back, arguing that it is such a waste to see a player of his talent and experience do not play international. Soccer. They believe the national team would be even stronger with Benzema in the squad, a point difficult to dispute. While Deschamps always avoids questions about Benzema in front of the media – “I’m making the best choices for the team” is his typical response – in private, Deschamps has none and is just not interested, sources say ESPN .

The point is, Deschamps had excellent results without Benzema, reaching the Euro final in 2016 to lose to Portugal and win France’s second World Cup title in 2018. The former Juventus coach is a great supporter of team spirit, unity, cohesion, as well as the preservation of the notion of squad and team. Deschamps’ rotation forwards like Giroud have done well for him considering the way he wants to play.

Deschamps often says that a World Cup team is not the best 23 players you have in your country, but the 23 players who can develop the best chemistry to get as far as possible in the competition. This was the case when he won the World Cup and the Euro as a player in 1998 and 2000, and it was the same as a coach in 2016 and 2018; it will always be the same this summer, regardless of how a problem is divided. Benzema’s apparent outcast status continues to be.

Deschamps doesn’t believe that even if he had forgiven his former player, the team spirit would be the same with Benzema in the squad. The Real Madrid striker still has friends Blues’ rotation – like Varane or Griezmann, for example – but most of the young members of the squad have never played with him. He would naturally be the leader, as he was before, because of who he is, where he plays and the personality he has. But France now has other leaders. Deschamps is also aware of the clash between Benzema and Giroud in early 2020, when Benzema compared himself to a Formula 1 car and Giroud to a go-kart. Deschamps has a strong relationship with Giroud; What message would he send to the Chelsea forward and the rest of the squad if he brought Benzema back in 2021?

For part of the country, there is a debate. For Zidane, there is a debate. But for Deschamps, nothing has changed. As long as he’s in charge, Benzema won’t be back. The head coach’s contract with France expires after the 2022 World Cup, but sources tell ESPN he will soon be offered a new contract by French Federation President Noel Le Graet, who will keep him on orders until after 2024 Euros. By 2024, Benzema will be 36 – and it may be too late.


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