The story between Karim Benzema and the French football team probably coming to an end. In a message posted on social networks on his birthday, Monday, December 19, the Ballon d’Or 2022 suggests that he is retiring from international football. “I made the effort and the mistakes it took to be where I am today and I’m proud of it! I’ve written my story and ours is ending.” writes the Real Madrid star, accompanying his publication with a photo of him wearing the tricolor tunic.
Last minute package for the World Cup in Qatar, at the end of which the France team was crowned vice-world champion, the 35-year-old striker returned to the Blues group in May 2021 for the Euros. This announcement had surprised the football world when the French player had been absent for more than five years, following his involvement in a “sextape” blackmail affair for which he had been convicted at first instance to a one-year suspended prison sentence in November 2021.
Despite a tumultuous history with the Blues and coach Didier Deschamps, what remains of Karim Benzema’s passage to the France team?
37 goals in 97 games
The French striker started his international adventure at the age of 19 on top speed by scoring in his first match, March 28, 2007, the only goal of the match against Austria. He even wore the captain’s armband in 2015 against Brazil in a friendly match. And if he draws a definitive line on the France team, Karim Benzema will have played his last match during a France-Croatia match (0-1) at the Stade de France, on June 13, 2022, as part of the League of Nations. And his last goal ten days ago during France-Denmark.
Despite an absence of five years, Karim Benzema played 97 matches, what makes him, tied with Bixente Lizarazu and Laurent Blanc, the tenth most selected player in the history of the France team. Facing the opposing cages, the striker scored a total of 37 goals, according to the count of the French Football Federation (FFF). This record puts him in fifth place among French scorers, between Michel Platini (41 goals) and Kylian Mbappé (36).
The Real Madrid striker has only participated in one World Cup during his career, in 2014 in Brazil (where France failed in the quarter-finals), and played in three Euro football matches (in 2008, 2012 and 2021). But he struggled to be decisive in major international competitions. The majority of his goals (15) have come in friendly matches.
In the top 10 of the best decisive passers
Upon the arrival of Didier Deschamps at the head of the France team in 2012, Karim Benzema had very quickly won the confidence of the coach, with more than 80% tenure. Because the Madrid player does not just score goals, he also delivers assists. So many qualities that make him a “total attacker”, very popular in contemporary football.
According to the sports statistics company Opta, Karim Benzema is the author of 17 assists in the tricolor jersey, which places him in ninth place in the ranking of the best passers.
Antoine Griezmann is now at the top of this ranking, with 28 assists, including two against England in the quarter-finals in Qatar. Note that this figure may differ on other statistics sites that do not take into account the same criteria to characterize a decisive pass.