2022 World Cup: fear for Giroud, Varane and Benzema away … a lively first training session in Qatar for the Blues

The French team, with Karim Benzema and Raphaël Varane still on the sidelines of the group, had their first training session on Thursday since arriving in Doha, during which Olivier Giroud remained on the ground for several minutes after a volley.

Five days before their entry into the World Cup against Australia, the 26 Blues discovered the Jassim bin Hamad stadium, the usual den of the Al Sadd club, where some 400 supporters, mainly guests from the French school Bonaparte in Doha, have chanted the names of Benzema and Kylian Mbappé with force.

The French were able to smell the perfume of the world Cup with more than 200 journalists and photographers present to attend the session at nightfall, under 28 degrees and significant humidity. On the edge of the field, the president of the French Football Federation Noël Le Graët spoke at length with Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, president of PSG since the arrival of the Qatari sovereign fund in 2011 in the French capital.

Varane and Benzema late

In the stands, the 2018 world champion Steven Nzonzi, player of Al Rayyan, came to see his former partners. Spared since the start of the rally on Monday, Benzema and Varane carried out exercises (sprints, changes of direction, tonicity work, etc.) separately under the direction of physical trainer Cyril Moine, before concluding their program with sheathing, push-ups and stretches.

The two players fell slightly behind on the expected passing times: coach Didier Deschamps had indeed said on Monday that he hoped that “Thursday everyone can be on the collective session”.

Smiling Blues walked the lawn of the Jassim Bin Hamad stadium, for their first training session in Qatar.

Smiling Blues walked the lawn of the Jassim Bin Hamad stadium, for their first training session in Qatar.
MAXPPP – The Parisian / Arnaud Journois

Varane’s recovery is one of the technical coaching challenges ahead of Tuesday’s (8 p.m.) opener, as the vice-captain has yet to play again since his worrying thigh injury on October 22.

The situation remains unclear regarding Benzema, whose last match played in full dates back to October 19. The Real Madrid striker has been complaining of persistent thigh discomfort for several weeks, without the nature of his physical problems being clearly established.

Alert for Olivier Giroud

The last collective training in France, Tuesday evening, had been tarnished by the injury of striker Christopher Nkunku (sprained knee), since replaced in the group by Randal Kolo Muani.

The Blues have apparently been spared the bad news on Thursday, despite an alert concerning Olivier Giroud. The AC Milan striker complained of pain in his left foot after taking a shot, remaining on the ground for quite some time before getting back to his feet and completing training without apparent discomfort. A training session is scheduled for Friday at the end of the day, behind closed doors this time.

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