Benzema returns to French national team after years-long absence

Paris, May 18 (EFE).- French forward Karim Benzema, one of Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorers, will see his first international duty in five and a half years after being named Tuesday as a member of his country’s Euro 2020 squad.

Benzema missed Euro 2016 – an event hosted by France in which Les Bleus finished runner-up to Portugal – and the team’s successful run to the title at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia due to his alleged involvement in a sex-tape and blackmail scandal involving former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

The 33-year-old will stand trial over those allegations in October.

During his international sabbatical, Benzema, who has scored 27 goals for France and has 81 caps, helped Real Madrid win three consecutive Champions League titles between 2016 and 2018.

French national team coach Didier Deschamps said he had “a long chat” with Benzema before calling him up.

“I don’t have the ability, neither I, nor Karim, to go back to the past. The most important thing is today and tomorrow,” Deschamps said in unveiling his 26-man squad, adding that the two had made important progress in their talks.

He said he allowed himself a lot of time for reflection before arriving at the decision.

Deschamps, who had a public fallout with Benzema in the past, refused to reveal the content of the conversation.

France will kick off their run at Euro 2020 (a tournament to be held in 11 cities that was postponed by a year due to the pandemic) against Germany on 15 June in Group F, which also features defending champion Portugal and Hungary.

The squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (Lille) and Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Clement Lenglet (FC Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) and Kurt Zouma (Chelsea).

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham) and Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich).

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco); Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele (FC Barcelona), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) and Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach). EFE


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