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France star Karim Benzema has been ruled out of the World Cup in Qatar after tearing a muscle in his left thigh during training.
Benzema’s injury is another blow to a France side who are defending the title they won in Russia four years ago but are already missing key midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
The 34-year-old Real Madrid striker claimed the Ballon d’Or earlier this year and will be the first reigning winner of the prestigious award to miss the World Cup since Kevin Keegan in 1978.
A statement released by the French Football Federation confirmed the news, stating: “Karim Benzema was forced to cut short the team training session after feeling pain in the quadriceps of his left thigh.
“He went for an MRI at a hospital in Doha, which unfortunately confirmed a rectus femoris injury, which will require a three-week recovery period.
“Having discussed his options with Dr Franck Le Gall and the Real Madrid striker, [France coach] Didier Deschamps confirmed Karim Benzema will miss the World Cup.”
France coach Didier Deschamps said: “I am extremely sad for Karim who made this World Cup a major goal of his. Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the immense challenge that awaits us.”
Les Bleus open their World Cup campaign against Australia on Tuesday, with Denmark and Tunisia the other teams alongside them in Group D.