Before the World Cup, France suffered a big blow

France striker Karim Benzema returned to training on Saturday but had to miss the session with an injury and is now expected to miss the World Cup altogether.

Benzema has struggled for fitness throughout the season and was forced to miss Real Madrid’s last five games in all competitions before the World Cup break.

The 34-year-old returned to training on Saturday alongside former club-mate Raphael Varane, who has not played since October after picking up an injury while playing for Manchester United.

RMC initially reported that Benzema was unable to finish the session – his first since arriving in Qatar. He was due to go for a test in the evening to assess the damage, with the same publication later revealing that the Ballon d’Or winner’s World Cup dream was over.

Le Parisien described it as a muscle tear in his left thigh.

France can still call for a replacement to join the squad until Monday, the day before they play Australia. Didier Deschamps named just 25 players in his original squad for the tournament, opting not to fill the maximum quota of 26 players allowed by FIFA until the latter included Marcus Thuram.

The holders were already missing Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante from the group through injury, while Prisnel Kampembe and Christopher Nicco have had to withdraw since the squad was announced.

Harry Simeo hosts Scott Saunders, Brian Goldfarb, Sean Walsh and Ali Rampling from the 90 Minutes editorial team to look back at Brazil ’14 as part of ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

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