Tensions between Karim Benzema and France have been running high over the past few weeks, especially after the striker was sent home from Qatar prematurely for a minor injury. Now, the striker has seemingly cut all ties with the team to end the story.
Benzema announced his retirement from the French National Team yesterday, less than 24 hours after the team’s painful defeat to Argentina in the final of the World Cup. Many theories have come to the fore regarding the tensions between the parties, and Romain Molina has come out with some critical information on the same.
The journalist reports that Antoine Griezmann and Hugo Lloris were happy with Karim Benzema’s departure from the National Team camp just before the World Cup. Both players were against the striker’s return in the first place and celebrated his return.
The Atletico Madrid and Tottenham superstars considered themselves the leaders of the France team and were unhappy with Benzema being in the squad.
The Ballon d’Or winner worked hard to return to the National Team for the World Cup after missing the 2018 edition owing to his exile from the team. Moreover, he missed Real Madrid’s last two weeks before the tournament hoping to recuperate from his muscular setback.
After seemingly recovering just in time, Benzema suffered a thig injury in a training session and was sent home by the coach. He recovered in less than two weeks and was understandably unhappy about being excluded from Deschamps’ plans without a proper evaluation of his situation.
While announcing his retirement too, Benzema took a direct dig at the National Team setup and management by saying that he had tried his best.
“I made the effort and the mistakes it took to be where I am today and I’m proud of it! I wrote my story and ours ends.”
Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann had a great tournament himself and undoubtedly benefited through Benzema’s absence as he had no direct competitor. He provided three assists in seven games in what was a historical run.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.