Football

Benzema, Mbappe headline France squad at World Cup

Benzema, Mbappe headline France squad at World Cup
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Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe headline France head coach Didier Deschamps’ squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Sources have told ESPN that Benzema’s fitness is not a worry to France staff despite the forward missing Real Madrid’s final games before the World Cup due to muscular fatigue.

– 2022 World Cup: All squad lists for Qatar
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (US)

« He’s played an enormous amount, maybe too much at one point. Karim knows that the World Cup is very important for him. He hasn’t refused to play for Real Madrid, he just wasn’t in top form. He’ll do everything to be ready for the 22nd [France’s first match], » Deschamps said.

Defending champions France will take just 10 players from the squad that lifted the title in Russia in 2018, with key midfield stars Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante missing through injury.

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has been selected despite suffering a knee injury last month. Sources have told ESPN that Varane’s rehabilitation is going well though and he could be ready for the opening game against Australia.

« We have a huge challenge ahead of us. Nothing is bigger than the World Cup. But I have total faith in my players, » Deschamps said.

« You can’t change the physical form players are in. We play on the 22nd, so at least we have one week to prepare. »

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Forward Olivier Giroud, who is two goals shy of Thierry Henry’s all-time national scoring record of 51 goals, was also included.

Giroud was recalled in March after a nine-month hiatus following the team’s early Euro 2021 exit and has been in good form for AC Milan.

« I think it’s better for the France team that he’s with us, » said Deschamps about Giroud who remains second choice behind Ballon d’Or winner. « He knows his status. »

Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe, who has just returned to training, is also included, as is highly-rated Madrid teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

France squad for 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.

Forwards: Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Christopher Nkunku.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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