E.Missed the meter, hit the post, enjoyed a comeback: Even without a goal, Karim Benzema was the luckiest unlucky person on the pitch in the 3-0 victory of soccer world champions France in the European Championship test against Wales. “I was very proud, I wanted to play and show myself – and that’s exactly what I did tonight. I felt very good out here, ”said the 33-year-old Real Madrid top scorer after his return to the Equipe Tricolore, which was hardly thought possible.
National coach Didier Deschamps surprisingly nominated Benzema for the European Championship in mid-May; After more than five and a half years, the attacker celebrated his comeback on Wednesday evening in the Allianz Riviera in Nice – 300 kilometers as the crow flies to his native Lyon.
“He was very present and showed a lot of good things,” praised Deschamps. “It was unfortunate for him, the penalty was well shot. I would have been happy for him if he had scored, but if he saves it for later … “, said the former international. Benzema integrated well into the collective.
“I felt good”
By “later” Deschamps was certainly referring to the European Championship – France will have to start against Germany on June 15 in Munich. Then Benzema’s 28th international goal can also work. Against Wales, he failed with a penalty shot by the brilliantly parried Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward (27th minute); In the final phase, the returnees hit the post.
Because of the involvement in the blackmail case against Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema was initially suspended at the end of 2015 and ultimately no longer considered. But now the four-time Champions League winner has completed his 82nd international match – more are likely to follow. “It was a difficult season with many games, but I felt good the whole game,” said the returnee.
The goals for Les Bleus were scored by Kylian Mbappé from Paris Saint-Germain (35th minute) and Barcelona professionals Antoine Griezmann (48th) and Ousmane Dembélé (79th), who stormed for Borussia Dortmund in the 2016/17 season. Deschamps also ordered Bayern professionals Benjamin Pavard and Corentin Tolisso into the starting line-up; Kingsley Coman came on as a substitute in the middle of the second half. Five Bundesliga professionals are in the French squad.
Deschamps had opted for a 4-4-2 system, with Griezmann behind the tips Benzema and Mbappé. “Yes, we tried a few things, especially against a deep opponent like Wales with five defenders,” said Benzema. “It was a bit difficult, but we still have time to improve things.” The trade journal “L’Équipe” already saw a “flawless achievement”.
The two-time world champions (1998 and 2018) will meet Hungary (June 19) and defending champions Portugal (June 23) in Group F in Budapest. For Deschamps, who has been head coach for nine years, the pan-European tournament could be another milestone on the road to success. After the narrow quarter-final defeat at the 2014 World Cup against eventual world champions Germany, he led France to the final at the 2016 European Championship and won the World Cup three years ago in Russia. His contract runs until the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022.