When France striker Karim Benzema reported for World Cup duty, his Real Madrid teammates, notably Brazil’s Eder Militao, assumed he was fine, but the 34-year-old was ruled out after injuring himself in training on Saturday.
When queried about Benzema’s fitness in recent weeks, after missing nine of Real Madrid’s past 15 games due to “thigh fatigue,” Militao revealed the Frenchman had been trying to recover in time for the World Cup.
“He was holding on (not playing) as much as he could with the club because he felt a discomfort, but when he reported (for France) we thought everything was fine,” Militao told reporters ahead of Brazil’s World Cup opener against Serbia on Thursday.
“I didn’t talk to him but (Real’s Brazil forward) Vinicius (Jr) did – he (Benzema) felt another discomfort. I wish him the best and that he recovers soon.”
Ballon d’Or winner Benzema was forced to leave defending champions France’s training session on Saturday.
His injury struggles started on Sept. 6 in the Champions League game against Celtic, when he had to be substituted early in the first half and missed Real’s next three games.
He played in the next two but missed the game at Getafe before featuring in the following three games, scoring twice.
However, he missed five of Real’s last six matches, playing only the last 28 minutes of their 5-1 Champions League win against Celtic early in November.
Benzema had a stellar campaign with Real last season, scoring 44 goals in 46 games in all competitions as he helped guide them to a LaLiga and Champions League double.
France, already without midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante plus striker Christopher Nkunku because of injury, open their campaign against Australia in Group D on Tuesday.
Manager Didier Deschamps decided not to replace the injured Benzema in his World Cup squad, leaving France with 25 players.