France probably still the best in the world, even without Benzema.

To anyone with a shred of interest in football, this won’t be news: Karim Benzema is very good at football. He’s technically the best player in the world after picking up the 2022 Ballon d’Or. Of course, that award doesn’t mean you are the most talented, but it does signify that you are a top player who had a fantastic year.

With a fully fit Benzema, it would have been a natural assumption that he would make France significantly better. However, he picked up an injury that ruled him out. However, even without him, they’ve been terrific in Qatar. 

World Cup flourishing

Although he slotted into France and played well, the team has still played well in his absence. Les Bleus came out of the gates hot and have been one of the most consistent sides at the tournament. They have been scoring goals for fun, particularly Olivier Giroud, who has been given the starting role in Benzema’s absence. The AC Milan striker has contributed four goals, firing them into the final. His play has France as the favourites in the World Cup winner odds at 5/6 and Giroud himself has the third-best World Cup Golden Boot odds at 20/1. 

Benzema has played on all sorts of sides and changed his game to fit in with goal scorers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuaín and Gareth Bale. Since the departure of Ronaldo at Real Madrid, he has taken on more of a predatory striker role, hunting out his shot, which has helped his team. However, France haven’t missed his goals and the familiarity of Giroud suits them. It culminates in this World Cup, which could result in France being the first repeat champions since Brazil in 1962.

Pieces that fit

What Giroud does is make the pieces around him fit. He is often an unsung hero who comes into the side and instantly makes their team play better. The Frenchman proved as much last season when he came in for the injured Zlatan Ibrahimović and helped AC Milan lift the Scudetto. Those around him, particularly wide players, can come into the game and feed off his holdup play. For France, Antoine Griezmann has been able to adapt his role to drop deeper into midfield to progress the ball, knowing that when he gives it to Giroud, it will stick to the powerful forward. That, in turn, offers Adrien Rabiot, who is having a spectacular tournament, the freedom to roam midfield and fill in wherever he is needed. It’s not all about the goals with Giroud; it’s about being the catalyst for the pieces around him.

Euro hiccup

Euro 2020 was far from a disaster but not up to the standard for this tremendous French side. France looked to be cruising during the tournament and many pundits tipped them to win the whole thing when Didier Deschamps added Benzema to a World Cup-winning side. Everything was going perfectly, and they were even up 3-1 with 10 minutes to go in the round of 16. Then, Switzerland came back to draw the game 3-3 and knock France out on penalties. Unfortunately, it looks like Benzema may miss out this time with Les Bleus. And although he certainly may have made the side better, they still are performing at a high level. There is a myriad of factors as to why France could be doing better in the World Cup than in Euro 2020, but even without Benzema, they have enough talent to win. Les Blues are playing free-flowing football, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go all the way. 

France probably still the best in the world, even without Benzema.

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