Karim Benzema returns to action as France play down World Cup Final comeback

Karim Benzema has seen on-field action for the first time since recovering from injury – fuelling talk that he could return for the World Cup Final.

The Frenchman captained Real Madrid as they played a friendly game against fellow Spanish side CD Leganes. Per the Los Blancos website, the match from earlier today was two thirty-minute halves, instead of the typical 45.

Vavel.com reported that this morning’s friendly finished 1-1 between the two teams. Toni Kroos got Real Madrid’s only goal, with Undabarrena the scorer for the Spanish second-division club.

Most important, though, was Benzema’s return to the pitch. The forward has suffered numerous fitness issues during the 2022/23 season. These culminated in a thigh injury that ruled Karim Benzema out of the World Cup entirely – or so we thought.

Deschamps stays coy on Karim Benzema World Cup comeback

Because the French Football Federation elected to not replace Benzema in their squad, he can still come back to Qatar. Per the regulations (via The Athletic): “Only the 23 to 26 players on the final list will be permitted to take part in the final competition”.

Therefore, as France have continually included Benzema in their squad lists throughout the tournament, he is available. But will Didier Deschamps call-up the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner?

In a press conference ahead of the final, the France boss declined to comment on Benzema’s potential involvement. When asked about Karim Benzema playing in the World Cup final, Deschamps said (via Daily Mail): “I don’t really want to answer that. Next question.”

Despite the dismissiveness, Deschamps accompanied his response with a smile.

As his match fitness is questionable, it is unlikely that Benzema will feature much in the showpiece game. It would also be unfair to Olivier Giroud, who has led the France attack with aplomb.

Giroud steps up in Benzema’s absence

The AC Milan striker has had a historic tournament in Qatar. Giroud has started all but one of France’s matches, scoring on four occasions. He has also scored at important times, for instance getting the winner against England in the quarterfinals.

Because of this, France’s No.9 is within touching distance of a golden boot. However, he will need to score at least once in the Final to overtake Messi and Mbappe.

During the World Cup, though, Olivier Giroud became a record-breaker. The Frenchman became his country’s all-time top scorer with his goal in the round-of-16 tie vs Poland, overtaking Thierry Henry.

He really has stepped up to lead France from the front alongside Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. Even though they have suffered a lot of injuries, Les Bleus are on the cusp of a second-straight World Cup.

If they manage this without the reigning Ballon d’Or winner, Giroud’s status as one of France’s best-ever forwards will only rise.

Featured image credit: Getty