Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe are the highlights of France coach Didier Deschamps’ call-up for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Sources told ESPN that Benzema’s fitness is not a concern for the France squad, despite the forward missing Real Madrid’s final games ahead of the World Cup due to muscle fatigue.
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“He played a lot, maybe too much at some point. Karim knows the World Cup is very important to him. He didn’t refuse to play for Real Madrid, he just wasn’t in his best shape. 22 [France’s first match]”, said Deschamps.
Defending champions France will have just 10 players from the squad that won the title in Russia in 2018, with top midfield stars Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante absent due to injury.
Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has been selected despite suffering a knee injury last month. Sources tell ESPN that Varane’s rehabilitation is going well and he could be ready for the opening game against Australia.
“We have a big challenge ahead. Nothing is bigger than the World Cup. But I have complete confidence in my players,” said Deschamps.
“You can’t change the physical form of players. We play on the 22nd, so at least we have a week to prepare.”
Striker Olivier Giroud, who is two goals short of Thierry Henry’s national record of 51 goals, was also included.
Giroud was recalled in March after a nine-month hiatus following the team’s departure at the start of Euro 2021 and is in fine form for AC Milan.
“I think it’s better for the French team that he’s with us,” Deschamps said of Giroud, who remains second behind the Ballon d’Or winner. “He knows your status.”
Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe, who has just returned to training, is also included, as is Real Madrid teenager Eduardo Camavinga.
France squad for the 2022 World Cup
goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda.
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Theo Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Ibrahima Konate, Jules Kounde, Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Raphael Varane.
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga, Youssouf Fofana, Matteo Guendouzi, Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni, Jordan Veretout.
To forward: Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Christopher Nkunku.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.