Karim Benzema refused to discuss the « difficult » events that saw him withdrawn from France’s World Cup squad, as he prepared to lead Real Madrid into their Spanish Supercopa final with Barcelona on Sunday.
The Ballon d’Or winner has now returned to fitness — after a series of hamstring problems culminated in him being sent home from Qatar by France coach Didier Deschamps — and has scored four goals in his last three Madrid games ahead of the Clasico clash in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
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Benzema scored a penalty in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Valencia — as well as converting in the shootout — as Madrid look to retain the trophy they won in 2022.
« What happened, happened, » Benzema said in a news conference on Saturday when asked about France. « The important thing for me is tomorrow’s game. I’m ready. I feel good in mind and body… The rest is in the past. It was difficult, but that’s it. »
The forward was pressed on how he felt after missing the World Cup, and his subsequent international retirement, but refused to discuss the matter further.
« Look, that isn’t the issue tomorrow. It’s the final, » he said. « I’m sorry, I can’t talk to you any more about France or the World Cup. If you ask me about tomorrow’s game I’ll answer, but I won’t talk about the rest. »
Earlier on Saturday, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Benzema was « back » and « motivated » to deliver in the Supercopa final and in the second half of the season.
« I had an injury, I’ve worked hard to come back and to get to my level, » Benzema said. « I’m back and I’m very happy. Let’s hope I can keep helping my teammates. »
Benzema’s contract is due to expire at the end of this season, but he wouldn’t put a time limit on his stay at Madrid, where he’s now in his 14th season.
« I’m here, » Benzema said. « I enjoy every training session, every game. For me, it’s year-by-year. I can’t say how long I’ll be at Madrid, but what I can say is I enjoy every day at Madrid… After that, in football, you never know. »