Karim Benzema’s World Cup dreams are over after he was ruled out of the tournament after suffering an injury in training.
The Real Madrid striker saw his first full training session in the middle-east brought to an early conclusion after he suffered an injury on Saturday.
He was then brought in for a scan in Doha and it had been hoped that he would just miss their opener against Australia on Tuesday.
However, it was not good news for the 34-year-old, and France have confirmed that he will take no part at the World Cup, as he suffered a thigh injury which will keep him out for three weeks.
Benzema took to Instagram shortly after the announcement to say that he felt it was best to leave his place to someone who can replace him and contribute to their hopes of retaining the trophy.
He said: ‘In my life I have never given up but tonight I have to think about the team as I have always done so reason tells me to leave my place to someone who can help our group make a good World Cup. Thank you for all your messages of support.’
It is just the latest setback for France who have already had prolific RB Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku ruled out after an injury in training.
The likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and goalkeeper Mike Maignan were all unavailable for selection due their own injuries.
Karim Benzema’s World Cup dream is reportedly over after suffering an injury on Saturday
Benzema suffered a thigh injury in his first full training session after prior fitness issues
In a message on Instagram Benzema said he had to ‘think about the team’ and withdraw from the squad so that he could free up a spot for someone to come in as a replacement
A statement by the French national team on their social media accounts said: ‘Karim Benzema is forced to give up participating in the World Cup.
‘The whole team shares Karim’s sadness and wishes him a speedy recovery.’
In reaction to the news, France manager Didier Deschamps said: ‘I am extremely sad for Karim who made this World Cup a major goal.
‘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.’
The injury means that the players who finished first and second in the Ballon d’Or rankings have both been ruled out of the tournament through injury – after Sadio Mane was withdrawn by the Senegal squad.
Benzema, who was recently crowned as the winner of the Ballon d’Or, has been plagued with injuries so far this season for Real Madrid.
The thigh injury was not a reoccurrence of the knee and hamstring problems that had seen him train away from the squad alongside Raphael Varane who has also been a doubt for their opener with Australia.
Benzema (middle) has underwent individual training sessions alongside Raphael Varane (left)
The Madrid star was working his way through a personalised training programme developed by French staff that aimed to help him recover quickly from other concerns.
The three-week absence would mean that he would miss all of the group stage, as well as the Round of 16 and quarter-finals.
Even then, it would be a huge risk for him to be thrown into an important semi-final or final clash – if France were to make it that far.
His withdrawal though has given manager Didier Deschamps a decision to make on whether to call up a replacement.
Benzema (middle left) had been expected to lead the France attack alongside Kylian Mbappe
Benzema has only made one World Cup appearance for France, coming in 2014
Deschamps has already been forced into making attacking alterations after fellow striker Nkunku saw his World Cup hopes brought to an end after he was injured in a training session before the team departed for Qatar.
In his place, France opted to bring in Eintracht Frankfurt star Randal Kolo Muani.
National team managers can make last-minute changes up until Monday as players attempt to avoid injuries and nurse themselves closer to kick-off.
Benzema had been expected to play a key role in leading an already injury-stricken French side to a successful World Cup defence alongside fellow attacker Kylian Mbappe.
Benzema is their second striker to be ruled out of the tournament after Christopher Nkunku
His withdrawal means that the players who ranked both first and second in the Ballon d’Or rankings are out of the World Cup following the injury to Senegal’s Sadio Mane
The French striker’s only World Cup appearance so far came in 2014 with Benzema absent from team selection during France’s 2018 title-winning campaign.
There had been concerns going into the tournament about the impact of potential injuries with a short break between domestic football coming to a halt and the World Cup starting.
Senegal star Mane, the man who finished second to Benzema in the Ballon d’Or rankings, has also been ruled out of the tournament following an injury he sustained with Bayern Munich.
He had been called up to the Senegal squad before it was later decided he wouldn’t be ready to feature in Qatar.