Didier Deschamps hopes that Karim Benzema will get fit again quickly
World and European champions as player and coach: Didier Deschamps was able to accomplish this never-before-seen feat at the European Football Championship in several countries. As the team boss of France, the chances of the paper form are very good, the world champion is also a top favorite with bookmakers and is one of the big hunted. In order to achieve the goal, star striker Karim Benzema was pardoned in the run-up to the continental tournament.
The Real star made his comeback in team dress on Wednesday the previous week in a 3-0 win against Wales after more than five and a half years of absence and, apart from a missed penalty, performed well. At the dress rehearsal on Tuesday against Bulgaria – also a 3-0 victory – he was knocked out of the knee before the break. It could therefore be that Deschamps has to rebuild his dream storm for the EM start on Tuesday.
If Benzema is fit, there is a lot of pressure on him. Not only because of his 30 goals in 46 competitive games for Real Madrid, but because his nomination came as a surprise after he was initially suspended at the end of 2015 and then no longer considered because of the involvement in the case of Mathieu Valbuena being blackmailed. The cause is still not over, the 33-year-old has to appear again in court in October. In order to be successful, it was overlooked, and the old differences of opinion with Deschamps were also resolved. “What happened, happened. Now what happens on the pitch counts, because I want to show my best,” said Benzema.
Hopes are high that the veteran can improve his goal account in team dress with 27 goals in 83 international matches. “Everyone, not just a player, has to be at their best level,” said captain Hugo Lloris, taking the pressure off Benzema. Deschamps also emphasized this. “I don't want to separate the three strikers from the rest of the team. Our performance will depend on what each individual brings. Defenders and midfielders are just as much a part of that.”
In the storm, Benzema seem to be next to Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann behind. If you also have someone like Olivier Giroud, who scored twice on Tuesday, up your sleeve, you can't be better positioned in terms of personnel. A similar showpiece is the midfield around Paul Pogba and Champions League winner N'Golo Kante. “He would deserve the Ballon d'Or. He is always a driving force, small in size, but huge from a sporting point of view,” said Deschamps, praising the Chelsea engine.
In general, Deschamps feels privileged to have so many top-class players. “But that is no guarantee of success.” As a player, he has already savored the European Championship triumph in 2000, two years before that he was world champion, as well as team boss 2018. Now he wants to crown the positive development of “Les Bleus” with the second double from the World Cup and European Championship, which has not yet been done Nation has made it.
The fact that he would write history twice with it does not mean much to him. “Even if I'm always a competitor, I don't chase after it. Records have never been a driving force for me,” the 52-year-old told the “kicker”. He is already – alongside Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo – one of three players who became world champions as players and coaches. The final round in Russia was the big highlight after there had previously been a World Cup quarter-finals (2014) and the European Championship final against Portugal (2016). So the arrow has always gone up during the almost nine-year term in office.
And if it goes to Deschamps, it should continue like this in the future, even if his contract is initially only valid until the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “I am currently not thinking about being a club coach again. I am very happy,” emphasized the 103-time ex-team kicker. France’s third European Championship title after 1984 and 2000 would make him even happier. On the way there are two big chunks waiting in the group stage: Germany and defending champion Portugal. Start-up difficulties like in previous tournaments shouldn't be allowed.