Karim Benzema ruled out of World Cup due to thigh injury

Defending champion France’s World Cup hopes took a huge blow with the  news that its star striker Karim Benzema is out of the 2022 World Cup in  Qatar after tearing a muscle in his left thigh during training on  Saturday.

Benzema addressed his withdrawal in an Instagram post. “I’ve never given up in my life but tonight I have to think of the  team, as I have always done,” he said. “So reason tells me to give my  place to someone who can help our squad have a great World Cup. Thanks  for all your messages of support.” It will now be the first time since 1978, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner will not feature in the World Cup.

“Karim Benzema is out of the World Cup,” the French soccer federation (FFF) said.  “After hurting the quadriceps on his left thigh the Real Madrid striker is forced to give up on taking part in the World Cup.”

France coach Didier Deschamps added: “I am extremely sad for Karim who  had made this World Cup a major objective. Despite this new blow for the  French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything  to meet the huge challenge that awaits us.”

Benzema had hardly played at all in recent weeks — since winning the  Ballon d’Or, he has played fewer than 30 minutes for Madrid — and this  was his first full training session with France.

Benzema was France’s top scorer at the 2014 World Cup but did not play  in France’s victorious 2018 World Cup campaign because he was still  exiled from the team for his alleged role in a sex-tape scandal with  then-France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

Earlier this week, Benzema gave reassuring news in an extract of an  interview with L’Equipe’s television channel, which was set to air on  Sunday.

“I’m fine. I had a bit of pain but no tear and no serious injury. I  could have played (for Madrid) but I wasn’t at 100%,” he told L’Equipe’s  TV channel this week. Benzema joins the list of big names injured shortly before the World  Cup — like Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Germany’s Timo Werner. Not to  mention Benzema’s own teammates, Paul Pogba, N’Gole Kante and  Christopher Nkunku.

France faces Australia on Tuesday in Group D, then Denmark four days later and Tunisia on November 30.