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Defending champions France's injury list a major headache ahead of World Cup opener 

Defending champions France's injury list a major headache ahead of World Cup opener 

Defending champions France's injury list a major headache ahead of World Cup opener 
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By Nov 21, 2022 4:37:13 PM IST (Published)

Defending champions France have suffered another injury setback even before their first match in the FIFA World Cup. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema had to withdraw from the competition due to hamstring and knee problems. Benzema has been on red-hot form for most of the 2022 season and even won the Ballon D’or, the most prestigious individual prize in football. His withdrawal from the Qatar World Cup creates a huge vacuum in France’s frontline.

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With Benzema out of the tournament, the French side will most likely opt for a 4-3-3 formation with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe being supported by either Olivier Giroud or Ousmane Dembele. Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman might also feature in the attack depending on the kind of formation coach Didier Deschamps prefers.
In the midfield, they will miss the creativity of Paul Pogba. He failed to recover on time from a knee injury that he sustained in a pre-season camp for his club Juventus. Perhaps an even bigger miss in the midfield is N'Golo Kante who is out with a hamstring injury. There are very few defensive midfielders in the world who can do what Kante does. Both Pogba and Kante were key to France’s World Cup win in Russia in 2018.
The midfield will also be missing Christopher Nkunku, who also has been in good form with 17 goals in 23 games for RB Leipzig.
It’s not just the offensive players that France has seen injuries in. Defender Presnel Kimpembe, who was part of the 2018 winning squad, was also declared not fit for playing due to an injury. Manchester United’s Raphael Varane has also been struggling with injury throughout the season though still in the squad, it’s not sure what role he will be playing in the tournament. Fellow centre-back Jules Kounde has also faced injury issues in his season at Barcelona and might not see much action in Qatar. Backup goalkeeper Mike Maignan will also be missing out due to an injury.
France will kick off their World Cup campaign with a match against Australia on November 23. The defending champions have been placed in a somewhat easier Group D along with Denmark, Tunisia and Australia.
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