Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been named in France’s 26-man squad for this summer’s European Championship after an absence of nearly six years.
Benzema has not played for his country since 2015 as a result of his alleged involvement in an attempted blackmail case involving an ex-France team-mate.
After confirming Benzema was in his squad, France manager Didier Deschamps said: “The most important is today and tomorrow.
“There were important steps. We saw each other. We discussed at length. I had a long reflection to come to this decision. I won’t reveal a word of the discussion, that concerns us. I needed it, he needed it “.
Hugo Lloris and Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur, Everton left-back Lucas Digne, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma, Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba of Manchester United are all named in the France squad.
Benzema has scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for France, including scoring twice in his last outing for the national team during a 4-0 friendly win over Armenia.
Les Bleus made it to the final of the tournament on home soil five years ago but were beaten by Portugal substitute Eder’s extra-time strike.
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)
EURO 2020 Thoughts
X factor: This could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final international tournament, and, recently his best form has been reserved for Portugal, with 10 goals in qualifying. The 34-year-old is 11 goals away from passing Ali Daei’s mark of 109 as the most prolific international goal scorer of all-time. Ronaldo tends to turn it on against elite nations; remember that hat trick against Spain in the last World Cup?
Must-watch game: France vs. Germany (June 16) Since the end of Spain’s dominance, France and Germany have become Europe’s preeminent nations, with one knocking the other out of two of the past three major tournaments. Recent results suggest France have the edge; Antoine Griezmann, for example, inspired a comeback win in the Nations League. This game will set the tone for the rest of the group, and eyes will be on Low. Can he go again after disappointing at the past World Cup and in the Nations League, where Germany only avoided relegation because the competition got restructured and expanded.
Prediction: 1. France 2. Germany 3. Portugal 4. Romania (assuming qualification)
France Football Tickets – Euro 2020
France v Germany (21:00, Munich) – Buy Euro 2021 Tickets
Hungary v France (15:00, Budapest) – Buy Euro 2021 Tickets
Portugal v France (21:00, Budapest) – Buy Euro 2021 Tickets