Paris (AFP) – Karim Benzema was forced to leave the pitch with a dead leg on Tuesday as world champions France beat Bulgaria 3-0 in their final friendly one week before beginning their Euro 2020 campaign.
Benzema was taken off in the 39th minute at the Stade De France in what is France’s last match before they take on Germany in their opening Group F match of the European Championship against Germany on June 15.
The 33-year-old had been recalled with great fanfare to the national team following a near six-year exile, but his replacement Olivier Giroud showed why Les Bleus are considered among the favourites for the tournament with a second-half brace.
Antoine Griezmann scored the opening goal in front of 5,000 joyous supporters who were also celebrating their return to live football in the stadium.
Charlene Lecuir was one of those fans lucky enough to get a ticket for Tuesday’s match, and told AFP she let out a “scream of joy” when she learned she would be attending.
Fans were allowed in if they had a negative test for Covid-19 within the previous 48 hours or proof they had been completely innoculated for the virus.
The fans were worried when, with France already ahead thanks to Griezmann, Benzema sat down in the middle of the pitch and was checked over by team doctors after having fallen heavily when attempting a header a few minutes earlier.
He then left the field, but France coach Didier Deschamps played down the injury, saying it was a “dead leg”.
“He took a good hit on the muscle above the knee,” France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster M6.
“He stopped playing because he felt it hardening… the medical staff are at his side.”
Benzema had been sidelined by Les Bleus since 2015 over his alleged role in a blackmail plot involving his former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
He missed out on France’s 2018 World Cup win and their run to the Euro 2016 final on home soil.
Benzema has scored 27 goals for France and was last month named as this season’s best French foreign-based player by the country’s players’ association.
He scored 29 goals last season for Real Madrid, passing 20 league goals in all three seasons since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
- Includes USA, NBC, FOX, FS1 + more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Alaba free-kick gives Real Madrid win to start title defence
- Roma squeeze past Salernitana, Immobile fires Lazio to Bologna win
- Chippa inflict first loss on Orlando Pirates’ new ‘plumber’ coach
- Alexis Sanchez makes Marseille debut in Brest draw
- ‘Fair tackle’ as Tuchel insists no hard feelings after Conte clash
- ‘Simply extraordinary’ Musiala scores again as Bayern beat Wolfsburg
- Liverpool vs Crystal Palace on TV: Reds host Vieira’s Palace
- Japan star Kubo nets winner on Real Sociedad debut
- Conte, Tuchel see red as Kane snatches Spurs draw at Chelsea
- Musiala scores again as Bayern beat Wolfsburg