Benzema’s cold relationship with Deschamps and retirement from international football
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema announced his retirement from international football with France. He only played in one World Cup with Les Bleus.
France got to the 2022 World Cup final without Karim Benzema and several other key players. In a career has gone from strength-to-strength, Benzema has only played in one World Cup and at the age of 35 has decided to retire from international football. The Real Madrid striker announced his international retirement on his 35th birthday, bringing to an end his time with Les Bleus.
Benzema’s latest disappointment came in Qatar. After an inconsistent start to the season at Real Madrid due to a series of injuries, the Frenchman arrived at the World Cup with aim of being the focal point in attack for the world champions. After two days in Doha, on the same day he was due to return to training with the rest of his team-mates, he suffered a quadriceps injury that ruled him out of football’s grandest stage.
Poor relationship with Deschamps
At first, the injury seemed more serious than it turned out to be. Benzema’s departure from the French camp was premature. As reported by L’Équipe, Benzema could have played in the last 16. Deschamps, preserving the unity of the squad, sent him home as soon as the extent of the injury became known. The relationship between the two broke down.
Benzema’s unexpected return to the national team did not go down well with some of his team-mates, as was recently reported in France. Antoine Griezmann lost his place in the team, Olivier Giroud was left out of some of the squads and the youngsters were always overwhelmed by the fact that they had a top-class striker in front of them. France lost to Switzerland in the last 16 of Euro 2020 last year and a debate arose as to whether Benzema’s return was beneficial for the national team. The striker, however, scored four goals, was the tournament’s top scorer and then led his team in the Nations League win over Spain.
Ups and downs with France
His time with the national team has had its ups and downs. In 2010, Raymond Domenech, France’s coach at the time, did not call him up for the World Cup in South Africa. In 2014, under Deschamps, he had an impressive World Cup, scoring three goals, taking on the role of team leader and finishing the tournament as top scorer. In the quarter-finals against Germany, a match in which France were eliminated, Benzema played a key role, but Manuel Neuer spoiled the party.
Criticised for not singing La Marseillaise, as well as for a goal drought in 2013 that went to 1,200 minutes without finding the back of the net, Benzema experienced his worst spell in 2015. The newly-crowned Ballon d’Or winner spent a night in jail for being implicated in an attempted blackmail offence against his France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena. Noël Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation, decided to act. It was six years without Benzema in which France reached the final of Euro 2016 and won the 2018 World Cup. His absence did not seem to be an ordeal for Deschamps.
Deschamps was giving him a chance with France. The decision generated controversy and, although his stats were positive, the Euro 2020 defeat to Switzerland left a rift between the two that culminated in Qatar. Benzema leaves the national team having scored 37 goals and registered 20 assists in 97 games. He is in the top five for all-time top scorers and for assists, but the feeling is that his international career could have been so much more.
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