An unexpected knee injury during the practice session of Karim Benzema hits France’s hopes of becoming the first team to retain the World Cup in more than half a century. The 34-year-old Benzema was injured during the practice session a day before the actual game starts.
He has won the Ballon d’Or, the prestigious award that anoints the world player of the year in the last month. He was immediately ruled out of France’s opening game against Australia but scans later confirmed the damage was severe enough that he would not recover in time to play any part in the tournament.
Didier Deschamps, the French coach, said he felt “extremely sad” for Benzema, “who had made this World Cup a major objective.” Benzema is not the only headline act missing through injury in Qatar. Senegal and Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mané was ruled out last week with a knee injury. Argentina has lost midfielder Giovani Lo Celso. Germany will be without forwards Marco Reus and Timo Werner, and Portugal is missing striker Diogo Jota.