After guiding France to two consecutive World Cup finals and one title, Hugo Lloris announced his retirement from international football on Monday night. The goalkeeper’s decision did not come as a surprise given his age, as he saw it as the right thing to pass on the baton to the next generation.
Lloris spoke to the media about a plethora of topics on the eve of his international retirement, one of which was Karim Benzema.
When asked about the alleged internal politics that led to the Real Madrid captain being sent home from the World Cup and his retirement after that, Lloris told L’Equipe (h/t Eurosport FR):
“We would all have preferred to have the Ballon d’Or winner when we saw what he has brought since his return. It would have been a major plus.”
Benzema picked up a thigh injury just before France’s World Cup campaign began. The injury, however, was not serious and the striker had recovered in time for the knockout stages. But manager Didier Deschamps did not call upon the Ballon d’Or winner’s services.
The intent was clear from the very start when he sent the striker home for a minor injury with a favourable prognosis.
Lloris did add that the entire episode surrounding the striker’s departure from Qatar left the players surprised, as he said:
“For Karim, we were all a bit surprised. What we, players, experienced with his departure is this: you train in the evening, he gets injured, you go to bed, and the next day when you get up you are told that Karim has left. Everything happened so quickly.”
It was later reported that several players in the dressing room including Antoine Griezmann and Lloris allegedly did not like the Real Madrid star’s inclusion on the squad. The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper’s latest statement, however, contradicts the reports.
“But there are many things that have been said that are either untrue or ridiculous: the atmosphere was very good before he left, and very good afterwards, and it normally increased thanks to our performance and the euphoria,” he said.
“I’m not going to say that we pushed for him to leave. That’s completely untrue. He helped us win the Nations League and his return has only been positive. I think it’s really dishonest to say that some of us could have encouraged his departure.”
The truth around the striker’s exclusion from the event last month may never come to light, although it has been suggested in France that Benzema might speak up on the matter to explain his side of the story.
Benzema returned to the turf for Real Madrid’s game against Real Valladolid and started again against Villarreal. In his two games after the restart, the veteran has scored three goals including two penalties.
Brahim, Tchouameni start in a 4-3-1-2: How Real Madrid could lineup against Sevilla
Real Madrid are set to play hosts to Sevilla this evening, in what could prove to be a critical match in the context of the title race.
Although Los Blancos hold a formidable lead at the top of the table, the club are coming on the back of a disappointing result against Rayo Vallecano.
Dropping more points against Sevilla tonight could prove to be costly, especially with Barcelona and Girona breathing down their necks.
Potential Real Madrid lineup vs Sevilla
As Real Madrid approach this crucial game, coach Carlo Ancelotti has to make several arrangements, especially with so many players ruled out either due to injury or suspension.
Starting from the goalkeeper position, Thibaut Courtois remains out, which means Andriy Lunin should continue in between the sticks, ahead of the unhappy Kepa Arrizabalaga.
In the right-back position, Ancelotti is likely to opt for Lucas Vazquez, as Dani Carvajal is suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the last game.
On a bright note, though, Antonio Rudiger is back and should return to central defence. He will be accompanied by Nacho Fernandez at the heart of Real Madrid’s four-man backline.
Elsewhere in defence, Ferland Mendy should continue to start ahead of Fran Garcia in the left-back position.
Moving into midfield, Eduardo Camavinga has been ruled out due to suspension. However, Ancelotti does have a myriad of options in the middle of the park.
Aurelien Tchouameni should continue to operate in the number six position, just behind the two interior midfielders Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde.
Luka Modric is an option on the bench, should Ancelotti require more experience in the middle.
As for the attack, the Real Madrid frontline should be led by Brahim Diaz once again, even though he faces fierce competition from Joselu.
Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, on the other hand, are guaranteed choices in the wide attacking spaces, though Ancelotti does have Arda Guler and Alvaro Rodriguez as potential alternatives.