International news

Karim Benzema frustrated by drought

August 15, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Karim Benzema has admitted his frustration after failing to find the net in France's goalless draw in Belgium on Wednesday which prolonged the Real Madrid forward's year-long international goal drought.

Karim Benzema France v Belgium
APKarim Benzema failed to find the back of the net against Belgium.

Benzema, 25, struck 23 times in 49 starts for his club last season and scored twice in pre-season for Madrid, but after drawing a blank in Brussels has now not found the target for Les Bleus in 1155 minutes of international football.

The former Lyon forward may have ended his barren streak, and given his country victory, in the second half in the Belgian capital but for a brilliant save from Thibaut Courtois which merely added to Benzema's irritation.

"Of course it's frustrating. I would like to score in every game. But it's going to come. The main thing is that I feel good. That little touch of luck that's required will come. I mustn't keep thinking about it, and just keep working," Benzema, who last scored for France in their pre-Euro 2012 win over Estonia, is reported as saying in the French media.

"I feel good, I've had a good pre-season with Real Madrid. The departure of [Gonzalo] Higuain means that I'm the only striker at the club, but I didn't wait for him to leave to score goals and take responsibility. I want to have a huge season, for club and country, and I'm giving myself the means to do that."

Only rarely did Benzema escape from Belgium centre-back duo Vincent Kompany and Daniel Van Buyten with the Manchester City defender lunging to block brilliantly in the second half when it looked as if the France striker may turn in a Mathieu Valbuena cross.

Though he replaced Benzema with Olivier Giroud 16 minutes from time, coach Didier Deschamps was impressed by the forward's all-round display.

"He wasn't far away [from scoring]," Deschamps said: "He did a lot of good things in terms of his movement. He's following on from what he's done in pre-season with Real. He looked fresh and sharp, but unfortunately didn't score. I would have liked for him to score, for him and for the team."

Deschamps concerns are understandably more global after he saw his team, which faces back-to-back 2014 World Cup qualifiers away to Georgia and Belarus early next month, fail to score for the fourth successive match. It is Les Bleus' worst run in front of goal since 1986-87 and only the third time in French football history the national team has proven so ineffective.

"We managed to control things well, better than Belgium, who were dangerous with quick attacks. We created quite a few opportunities. Yes, we didn't score, and that's the slightly negative side of things. But it's never easy," said Deschamps, who saw Arsenal man Giroud wastefully volley over the bar when well-positioned late on.

"Things can always go better, but what's the spark? To score? I'll be worried the day that we don't have a chance. In terms of possession here, we weren't far from 60%. You have to find a balance."

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