France’s hopes of repeating as World Cup champions in Qatar have taken another forceful blow with Karim Benzema now ruled out of the tournament which is set to being tonight.

The striker reportedly suffered a thigh injury during a training session but the 34-year-old has been battling a muscle problem all season, sitting out several games for his club Real Madrid as well.

“I am extremely sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective. Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us,” coach Didier Deschamps said.

Benzema’s injury is the latest in the long list of heartbreaks with the international side. Despite being the highest scorer for France in the 2014 edition he was not picked for the 2018 tournament with a blackmail scandal threatening to ruin his international career.

He only returned to the international side not too long ago after a six-year absence. Since his return to the international team, Benzema has scored 10 goals in 16 appearances.

Benzema has gone through a career metamorphosis of sorts in recent years taking up the mantle as Madrid’s main man after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. Last season he scored 44 goals in 46 games in all competitions as he helped guide Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double.

For his efforts, he was awarded the Ballon d’Or.

Karim Benzema is not the only high-profile name who will miss the world cup for France after suffering an injury during training. RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku recently suffered the same fate.

France, who were already without Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante will open their campaign against Australia in Group D.

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