Benzema in French colours

Benzema recalled after almost six years as France announce Euro 2020 squad

Karim Benzema was recalled to French team after nearly six years as the World Champions announced their 26-man squad for this summer’s European Championship.

The Real Madrid forward has not played for his country since 2015 as a result of his alleged involvement in an attempted blackmail case involving an ex-France team-mate.

Benzema, 33, missed France’s Euro 2016 campaign and 2018 World Cup win as a result of the allegations.

In January 2021 French prosecutors announced Benzema would face trial.

He is accused of paying individuals to extort money from midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, 36, by threatening to make a sex tape public in 2015, but the striker argues a police officer used dishonest methods to draw him into the situation.

After confirming Benzema was in his squad, France manager Didier Deschamps said: “The most important is today and tomorrow.

“There were important steps. We saw each other. We discussed at length. I had a long reflection to come to this decision. I won’t reveal a word of the discussion, that concerns us. I needed it, he needed it”.

Hugo Lloris and Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur, Everton left-back Lucas Digne, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma, Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba of Manchester United are all named in the France squad.

Benzema has scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for France, including netting twice in his last outing for the national team during a 4-0 friendly win over Armenia.

He has been one of Real Madrid’s standout players this season, scoring 29 goals – including 11 in 10 games – and providing eight assists in all competitions.

The Spanish giants are aiming to leapfrog league leaders Atletico Madrid and lift a record 35th La Liga title with one game remaining.

Now in his 12th year at the Bernabeu, Benzema was recently voted the best French player playing abroad by France’s National Union of Professional Football Players.

The striker will add to Deschamps’ already impressive attacking options of Paris St-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann when Euro 2020 starts on 11 June.

Les Bleus made it to the final of the tournament on home soil five years ago but were beaten by Portugal substitute Eder’s extra-time strike.

They begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Germany on 15 June. Portugal and Hungary are the other teams in Group F.

France Squad

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (Losc), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)