France take on Jamaica on Sunday at the Stade Pierre Mauroy. It is the last of the pre-World Cup friendlies and the last chance for some of the squad to stake a claim for a starting spot against Honduras on June 15th. One player who will be hoping to get back into international form is Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, and it will be important that he is firing on all cylinders before going to Brazil as there are a lot of hopes and dreams laid firmly at the feet of the 26-year-old.
Sadly this could be both Benzema’s first and last World Cup. To put even more pressure on the striker, he has never scored in an international tournament for France. Now the time has come for Benzema to finally unleash his ability on the world stage. For France, the performances of Benzema will have a huge impact on Les Bleus’ chances of reaching their target of making the quarter-finals.
The former Lyon forward is still trying to shake off the memories of his awful barren spell in front of goal, going a full 1,224 minutes without finding the back of the net for France. It was an awful time for both player and country and it led to all sorts of questions being asked about his ability and motivation.
Some doubted his commitment to the cause, citing the fact that he didn’t sing the national anthem as a sign that he didn’t care. Coach Didier Deschamps took a huge risk in the second leg of the World Cup play-off against Ukraine: he started Benzema although France were 2-0 down from the first leg, and the striker didn’t let him down.
A high-tempo performance saw the forward find the back of the net, only moments after a perfectly good goal was disallowed for offside. France won 3-0 and then Benzema went on to score a stunning volley in the friendly against the Netherlands in the Stade de France. It definitely looks like he has his shooting boots back on his feet, and he will be hoping his new Adidas battle pack boots will keep the run going and he can finally become the international goal-scoring forward that all of France hoped he could be.
Benzema’s recent performances for France and his excellent season for Real Madrid see the forward going into a tournament off the back of some of the best form of his career. He scored 22 goals in total in the league and Champions League and contributed 14 assists, and has shown that he can be the complete forward for the newly crowned European champions. His partnership with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the most devastating attacks in Europe, and now he has to create a similar understanding with Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery.
Against Jamaica on Sunday, Benzema will get a chance to properly warm up for the World Cup. The whole of France is behind him, and if he can forget the past and just look to what he has done for Real Madrid, it would take a strong-willed person to bet against Karim Benzema being a star at this summer’s World Cup.