slow-burn approach not an option for France, but Benzma adds fire up front –

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Slow-burn approach not an option for France, but Benzma adds fire up front – fr


PARIS (Reuters) – France may have to change their usual approach to slow Euro 2020 tournaments, but with the unexpected inclusion of Karim Benzema in the squad, the world champions have what it takes to go all the way.

The Blues traditionally stutter in their opening matches, but won’t have such luxury at Euro 2020 where they start their campaign against Germany in Munich in Group F, which also includes supporters of Portugal and Hungary.

Failure to win their first meeting would put enormous pressure on the team and likely lead to a must-see final game against Portugal, who beat them in the Euro 2016 final in France.

“Playing against Germany in Munich, we know what to expect. We will have to be at our best from the start, ”said coach Didier Deschamps.

When they won the World Cup in 2018, France had to dig deep to beat Australia in their opener and needed dying winner Dimitri Payet in another lackluster performance to defeat Romania in curtain raiser for Euro 2016.

France, however, acquired a great deal of experience from its campaigns at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup under Deschamps, himself winner of Euro 2000 and the 1998 World Cup with the Blues at the time.

In a surprise move from Deschamps, France stepped up their attacking options by calling on Benzema for the first time since 2015. This will be Real Madrid striker’s first tournament with France since the 2014 World Cup.

A blackmail scandal – for which Benzema is on trial in October – and his 2016 comment that Deschamps had “yielded to pressure from a racist part of France” by leaving the player, a Muslim of Algerian origin, from the The European Championship team that year had frozen their international career.

Yet Deschamps ended the player’s exile by integrating him into a group that will cause nightmares for opposing defenses.

Since Benzema last played for France, Kylian Mbappe has become one of the most exciting talents of recent years, Olivier Giroud has proven himself despite a lack of playing time at his club Chelsea while Antoine Griezmann has become a key player in the attack.

One of them, probably Giroud, will have to make way for Benzema, who has scored 30 goals for Real Madrid in all competitions this season.

“I’m not going to complain about having a lot of choice,” said Deschamps, who also has Ousmane Dembele, Kingsley Coman, Marcus Thuram and Wissam Ben Yedder at his disposal.

“I have a lot of offensive players because I think that’s where we can make a difference. We will have to find the right balance. “

Deschamps is certainly hoping that the firepower up front can compensate for potential weaknesses in the defense.

Raphael Varane has had a difficult season at Real Madrid while the performances of Presnel Kimpembe and Clément Lenglet were not convincing enough to make one of them a certain holder in central defense.

They will however be protected by a dominant midfielder, who should include the indefatigable N’Golo Kante and a wiser Paul Pogba, who are equipped to face any storm that may come their way.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)



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