Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

19.14 18 May 2021


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Karim Benzema has earned a dramatic recall to the France national team.

The Real Madrid striker has been included in their Euro 2020 squad, having not represented his country since October of 2015.

Benzema had been exiled from Les Bleus due to an investigation into an attempted blackmail of former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

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The 33-year old is due to stand trial in October charged with complicity in the attempted blackmail. He denies any wrongdoing.

Didier Deschamps revealed his European Championship squad on Tuesday evening, and Benzema was one of eight attackers included.

Benzema's casting out of the garden has not been quiet.

Following the decision to omit him from their Euro 2016 squad, Benzema claimed Deschamps had "bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France". Shortly thereafter, Deschamps' home was vandalised with graffiti calling him a racist.

"Even if with time it calms down a bit, I can't forget," the France head coach told RTL earlier this year, "It's not just about Karim Benzema.

"There are statements by other people too that have led to this violent act, which affects my family."

Deschamps added, "Saying certain things necessarily leads to verbal or physical aggression. I suffer the consequences. We cannot forget. I cannot forget. I will never forget."

Benzema has also thrown shade at the man who effectively replaced him as France's central striker over the past 5-and-a-half years - Olivier Giroud.

During an Instagram Q&A in March of 2020, Benzema said of the Chelsea striker, "You can't confuse an F1 car with a go-kart and I'm being kind."

"I know I'm a Formula 1 car. It works because he's there, that's it. It's not going to be spectacular.

"[Antoine] Griezmann and [Kylian] Mbappe get seen more while he rolls his sleeves up and does the dirty work. But does everyone like his game? I don't know."

Giroud is second behind only Thierry Henry on the list of all-time goalscorers for France with 44.

Speaking in a TF1/M6 simulcast on Tuesday night, Deschamps revealed he'd spoken with Benzema prior to recalling him.

"We met, we spoke at length," the head coach said, "I then thought very hard and came to make this decision.

"I needed this chat, he needed this chat. I don’t want to make this a specific case.

"As national team boss, I have always look beyond my personal circumstances. My responsibility is important, but it is bigger than me."

France begin their Group F campaign with a blockbuster against Germany on June 15 in Munich, before games with Hungary (June 19, Budapest) and Portugal (June 23, Budapest).

France Euro 2020 squad: 

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Léo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Clément Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)

Midfielders: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham Hotspur), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach).

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Anthony Martial Didier Deschamps Euro 2016 Euro 2020 European Championships France Germany Karim Benzema Olivier Giroud Portugal

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