Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who led the Blancos in the 2013/2014 Champions League to the Decima, said eight years ago: “People see Karim Benzema exclusively as a striker. However, he equally brings the qualities of a talented midfielder. And he has all the skills that a complete and fantastic player must have.”
Benzema kicked himself out of national team ahead of EURO 2016
Ancelotti left Real Madrid the following year and returned there in the summer of 2021. A few months after the departure of the meanwhile 62-year-old Italian, Benzema kicked himself out of the French national team. Because: The today 34-year-old offensive player was accused of being involved in the blackmail of a former teammate at the Bleus, Mathieu Valbuena. This in turn led to Benzema no longer being allowed to approach Valbuena. Therefore, both footballers initially didn’t appear for the Bleus any more.
All this happened just before the EURO 2016 in France. There, the French national team, with Didier Deschamps already on the sidelines, lost the final against Portugal after extra time. And as was the case with Benzema, Valbuena was absent from the squad of the then European vice-champions.
Immediately after his comeback, he scored four goals at EURO 2020
Two years later, France celebrated their second World Cup title in Russia. Before that, Valbuena moved to Fenerbahçe for the 2017/2018 season. From then on, the 37-year-old winger, who now plays for Olympiakos Piraeus, ceased to be an option for the Bleus. On the other hand, Deschamps pondered a return of Benzema, but finally the Real Madrid attacker made his comeback for the national team in time for EURO 2020.
Since then, the 34-year-old has made 13 appearances for the Bleus, scoring nine times. Four of those goals arrived at the European Championship. To be precise, Benzema scored a brace in the third group match against Portugal and in the round of sixteen against Switzerland. In the crazy game against the Nati, Real Madrid’s offensive star turned around an early disadvantage. The supposed underdogs then tied the game 3-3 in the closing stages before going on to win on penalties.
The triumph in the UEFA Nations League
France redeemed themselves with a direct ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and a UEFA Nations League triumph in Italy. There in October, Benzema scored in a 3-2 against Belgium and a 2-1 against Spain. He followed that up with a brace in an 8-0 home win over Kazakhstan in the World Cup qualifiers and a relatively late leading goal in a 2-0 away success against Finland.
A storybook season with Real Madrid
Moreover, Benzema, who moved to Real Madrid from Olympique Lyon in July 2009, is having his best season ever for the Blancos. Since Ancelotti’s return, the striker has scored 13 goals in 32 competitive matches. Two of those came in a 3-0 away win over RCD Mallorca on 14 March.
Thus, the captain of the Blancos replaced Thierry Henry as France’s most prolific scorer. Less than a week earlier, the 34-year-old single-handedly lifted his side into the Champions League quarter-finals in Real Madrid’s 3-1 home win over PSG. Because: He recorded a hat-trick. All this indicates that Benzema could become a decisive player at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
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