Benzema double helps France forget Ribery blues
Karim Benzema hit two spectacular goals as France romped to an 8-0 victory over Jamaica in a bid to ease the blow of losing star striker Franck Ribery for the World Cup.
Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann also scored twice in France’s final World Cup warm-up game before 49,000 fans in Lille.
While Jamaica barely put up any serious opposition, the result was a welcome boost for Didier Deschamps’ team two days after being rocked by Ribery’s withdrawal with a back injury.
“Ribery is a loss, but we have to stop talking about it and get on without him,” said Paris St Germain’s Blaise Matuidi, who scored his first brace for France.
Coach Deschamps insisted France remained united even without star Bayern Munich striker Ribery, who said that leaving the squad was like “a death in my soul”.
“We have lost a world-class player,” said Deschamps. “The French team is stronger with him when he is at 100 per cent, but there are other players. They form a collective.”
Real Madrid’s Benzema said: “A victory was what we needed before leaving. It gives us confidence. Everyone is happy. We showed a lot of good things.”
Benzema and Matuidi scored a goal in each half of the festive farewell to their French fans before heading to Brazil on Monday. France play their first World Cup group E game on Sunday against Honduras, who held England 0-0 on Saturday.
France are now unbeaten in five games and looked strong.
“We know that it is going to be a different kind of match next Sunday, but it was good to finish like that. It gives us confidence,” said Matuidi.
For Deschamps, the match was a last opportunity to try Benzema, roaming more freely, with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud up front in place of Ribery.
“I wanted to see them together again, but it is not just about them,” said Deschamps.
It was also important to see how the pair worked with France’s midfield, he added. But Deschamps acknowledged that Benzema and Giroud look in ”excellent physical condition”.
Giroud clearly feels he will be first choice to link up with Benzema. “I am going to be playing in my first World Cup – and in Brazil,” he said. “I am like a kid at Christmas.”