World Cup qualifying news

Karim Benzema benching 'a lesson'

September 12, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Being dropped for France's World Cup qualifier will have been "a good lesson" for Karim Benzema, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has claimed.

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Having extended his 15-month goal-scoring drought at international level with an ineffectual display in last Friday's 0-0 draw in Georgia, Benzema did not start Tuesday's Group I encounter in Belarus, the first time since November 2009 the Real Madrid forward had not been on the pitch at kick-off when available for Les Bleus.

The 25-year-old watched on as Didier Deschamps' side twice came from behind to triumph 4-2 in Gomel and clinch at least a place in the play-offs. Le Graet, 71, told RMC the painful experience may spur on Benzema to reproduce his club form for his country.

"I think it's a good lesson for him. I'm not a specialist in football, but I love it, and I love the player a lot. He's a massive player for me. That said, he's stuck a little with the French team whereas at Real Madrid, he plays regularly and scores goals in the league and the Champions League," said the FFF boss, who has no doubt Benzema is wholly committed to the French cause.

"He loves it, otherwise he wouldn't come and would invent injuries. He's a lovely bloke. A game on the bench won't do him any harm. He saw his friends play well and win without him."

Having played alongside Olivier Giroud in Tbilisi in a 4-4-2, Benzema missed out in favour of the Arsenal striker as Deschamps reverted to his preferred 4-2-3-1 in Belarus. However Guy Stephan, Deschamps' assistant, told RMC that Benzema need not fear too much for his international future if he can rediscover his form.

"Karim Benzema is a talented player, he said. "He's not been effective nor lucky in recent games. He didn't play but it doesn't mean he won't come back. Didier Deschamps will continue to follow him at Real Madrid. We're all obliged to get results. The players are also obliged to put in performances. When they don't, Didier has to make a choice."

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