Doha, Nov 19 (EFE).- Karim Benzema suffered a thigh injury here Saturday while training with the French national team for World Cup 2022 in Qatar and will be unavailable to Les Blues when they get their campaign under way on Nov. 22 against Australia.
The 34-year-old striker was due to undergo an MRI to determine whether he will recover in time to participate in France’s defense of the title they won four years ago in Russia.
Coach Didier Deschamps has until Monday night – the eve of France’s first match – to add a player to the squad if Benzema is ruled out for the tournament.
Deschamps has already had to make two changes to the roster he announced on Nov. 9, replacing the injured Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku with Axel Disasi and Randal Kolo Muani, respectively.
Benzema, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner, was not part of the France team that hoisted the World Cup in 2018, but he has become integral to the current side as the strike partner for Kylian Mbappe.
The Real Madrid star has been hampered by injury this season and played fewer than 30 minutes over the past month. Saturday was the first time this week that he trained with the rest of the French squad.
After receiving the Ballon d’Or last month, Benzema said that winning the World Cup was his main focus.
He scored three goals for the French side that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil before being eliminated by eventual winners Germany.
The most likely replacement for Benzema against Australia is Olivier Giroud, 36, who needs just three goals to surpass Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading scorer.
France and Australia are joined in Group D by Denmark and Tunisia.