Karim Benzema has suffered an apparent injury setback on the eve of the Qatar World Cup, French media reported on Saturday.

The Ballon d'Or winner and Real Madrid superstar only resumed full training with Les Bleus this weekend but could not complete the session with Didier Deschamps' team.

L'Equipe and RMC Sport reported Benzema was forced out by injury, with no initial indication of how serious the problem might be.

Benzema was troubled by a knee injury earlier this season before missing further fixtures for Madrid after suffering from muscular fatigue in his left quadriceps.

World Cup holders France begin their defence on Tuesday against Australia, before also tackling Denmark and Tunisia in Group D on November 26 and 30 respectively.

Benzema's absence from the tournament, should it come to that, would be a major blow to France, even though coach Deschamps also has the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud as forward options.

RB Leipzig's prolific Christopher Nkunku was forced to pull out of the squad this week after suffering knee ligament damage in a training collision with Eduardo Camavinga.

Youssouf Fofana says he "will do everything" possible to earn a place in France's starting line-up at the World Cup in Qatar.

Fofana only made his France debut against Austria in September, but his impressive form in Ligue 1 for Monaco was enough to earn him a spot in Didier Deschamps' 26-man squad for the tournament.

Injuries to fellow midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante mean he may even start for the reigning world champions, potentially alongside former team-mate Aurelien Tchouameni.

The 22-year-old says he will do all he can to receive a place among France's starters for their opening match against Australia on Tuesday.

"As a newcomer [to the squad], we come to discover this great competition," Fofana told reporters. "Whether you are 23 or 30, the first World Cup is always important.

"As a competitor, I will do everything to earn my place in the 11, like the 26, but always with respect for my teammates."

Fofana's late charge into the squad may induce questions of whether he is up to the required standard to play at a World Cup for France, but the 22-year-old feels his performances speak for themselves.

"As I said, it's on the field that speaks," Fofana added. "The coach validated me. After the first game [debut against Austria], everyone validated me too!

"I no longer have time to tell myself whether I am happy or proud. The competition starts in two days.

"Two major players are absent [Pogba and Kante], but they also started in the France team one day. There is a beginning for everything."

France received a boost on Saturday as Raphael Varane returned to full training on Saturday.

After their match with Australia, Deschamps' men will take on Denmark and Tunisia in Group D as they look to retain their World Cup crown.

Karim Benzema is "doing so much better" as he battles to be 100 per cent fit for France's World Cup campaign, according to his Real Madrid team-mate Eduardo Camavinga.

Benzema won his first Ballon d'Or last month after leading Real Madrid to glory in LaLiga and the Champions League in the 2021-22 season, but has endured an injury-hit campaign to date.

The striker has started 11 games in all competitions this season, scoring six goals, but he spent time on the sidelines with a knee injury before missing further fixtures after suffering from muscular fatigue in his left quadriceps.

However, with less than a week remaining until France begin their Group D campaign against Australia, Camavinga is enthused by his team-mate's recovery.

"He's getting better. He's doing so much better," Camavinga told RMC Sport. "I have a very good relationship with him, he helps me a lot at Real Madrid. 

"He is a very great player who deserves what is happening to him. I hope he will be ready for the World Cup.

"Sometimes in a match he comes to see me and tells me, 'If I have the ball you are going to do this run or this run', so he gives me advice at the right moment. 

"He also tells me when to stay in position. He is very good at communicating, he is a leader."

France are looking to become the first nation to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, but Didier Deschamps' team have been beset by bad luck on the injury front, with N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba missing the tournament.

With those two veterans of the 2018 World Cup win absent, Camavinga could partner Madrid team-mate Aurelien Tchouameni in a new-look France midfield, but he has no reservations over their lack of experience. 

"Critics are part of life. We don't have the same experience, but we are keen to show what we are worth," Camavinga added.

"With our enthusiasm and the experience of the elders, it can make a good mix."

Meanwhile, Deschamps has called up Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani after Christopher Nkunku suffered an injury on Tuesday.

Nkunku was ruled out of the World Cup after limping out of training with a leg injury, but his absence has given Muani – the scorer of eight goals for Eintracht this term – the opportunity to feature at his first major tournament.

Christopher Nkunku gave France an injury scare ahead of the World Cup when he hobbled out of a training session on Tuesday.

The RB Leipzig forward, who has been in outstanding form for his club, took a knock that left him in obvious pain and required team staff to help him off the field.

Nkunku suffered the blow in a challenge with Eduardo Camavinga as they contested a 50-50 ball, with head coach Didier Deschamps among those who went to his aid.

Deschamps will want Nkunku to be fit to make the trip to Qatar, with France due to depart for their Doha base on Wednesday.

Reports in France said Nkunku would undergo tests to check he had not suffered any significant damage to his left leg, with the player said to be optimistic he would be fine.

Defending champions France begin their World Cup Group D campaign against Australia on November 22, before tackling Denmark and Tunisia.

Nkunku has scored 17 goals and provided two assists in 23 games for Leipzig this season.

Among players from Europe's top five leagues – the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A – only France team-mate Kylian Mbappe has managed more combined goals and assists since the beginning of 2022 than Nkunku.

Nkunku has achieved a total of 48 goal involvements (37 goals and 11 assists) in the calendar year, with Mbappe leading the way on 57 (43 goals and 14 assists).

Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane, working their way back from injuries, played a limited part in Tuesday's training session.

Karim Benzema will do everything he can to be 100 per cent fit for the World Cup after making France's squad for the tournament amid an injury-hit season, says Didier Deschamps.

Benzema won his first Ballon d'Or after leading Real Madrid to glory in LaLiga and the Champions League by scoring 44 goals last term, but has endured a frustrating 2022-23 campaign to date.

The striker has started just 11 games in all competitions this season, hitting the net six times, and Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said the 34-year-old was "struggling" on Sunday after he suffered from muscular fatigue in his left quadriceps. 

However, Benzema will join the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud among France's attacking options in Qatar, and Deschamps hopes he will be in peak condition.

"Benzema has had a few minor injuries, but he knows that the World Cup is a very important moment," Deschamps said after revealing his 25-man squad on Wednesday. 

"He will do everything, like the whole group, to be 100 per cent."

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has also been included despite sustaining a leg injury in the Red Devils' Premier League draw at Chelsea last month, and Deschamps is optimistic regarding his chances of facing Australia in the team's Group D opener on November 22. 

"Presnel [Kimpembe] had a little problem but he will be available for the last league game on Sunday," Deschamps said.

"For Varane, it's a longer injury, but he will be available for the first game against Australia on the 22nd, if all goes well."

The World Cup holders will head to Qatar with a depleted set of midfield options after Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante were ruled out, while left-backs Ferland Mendy and Lucas Digne, as well as Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan – who suffered a calf injury in September – are among the other notable absentees.

France will be captained by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in Qatar, whose inclusion in a fourth World Cup squad sees him equal the national record set by Thierry Henry (in the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 tournaments).

France World Cup squad: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes); Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (Milan), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United); Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Marseille); Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Milan), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig).

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has quelled suggestions that Karim Benzema is unavailable for club action in order to keep him fit for the World Cup.

The France international is set to represent the defending champions in Qatar but enters the tournament with a lack of minutes, having last appeared domestically against Elche on October 19.

Those fitness issues will once again keep Benzema absent from Thursday's trip to Cadiz, the final game before Qatar 2022, where Madrid are looking to bounce back after a surprise defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Monday.

Benzema's recent absence has not resulted in any concerns that he could be missing for France, leading to suggestions that he may just be being rested to ensure he does not get injured ahead of the tournament.

But Ancelotti denied that was the case.

"It has bothered me that he has not been able to help us with his quality - he has tried but he has not been able to come back from this small thing, so he is not available," Ancelotti said in Wednesday's press conference.

"I don't have to say anything to anyone. The first disappointed person is Karim, who arrives at the World Cup without the necessary minutes to be in good condition.

"To think that he has been rested, I do not believe it, it is silly. He has not stopped; he has trained alone, but the feelings he had were not good.

"It means he arrives at the World Cup with few minutes in his legs."

Asked whether Benzema ever felt his World Cup involvement was in doubt, Ancelotti added: "No, apart from that big injury against Celtic, it's been two small things."

Madrid's defeat last time out leaves the defending LaLiga champions five points adrift of leaders Barcelona, albeit with a game in hand, and Ancelotti highlighted a drop in intensity as the reason for his side's decline.

He added: "If you lower intensity against teams that do not play in Europe, such as Rayo, they can be at a higher level than the rest.

"It's less noticeable when you're playing against teams that do play in Europe."

Karim Benzema is "struggling" and has been ruled out of Real Madrid's trip to Rayo Vallecano on Monday, which could prove a worrying sign for France ahead of the World Cup.

The Ballon d'Or winner returned from a short lay-off to feature as a substitute in Madrid's 5-1 Champions League win against Celtic on Wednesday, but he is now back on the sidelines.

Benzema has been troubled by muscular fatigue in his left quadriceps and the 34-year-old remains not quite at ease, although Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti expects him to be available for their home game against Cadiz on Thursday.

Benzema joins defender Antonio Rudiger in missing Monday's game, as Madrid seek a win that would take them back above Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.

Looking ahead to the trip to Vallecano, Ancelotti said on Sunday: "Karim won't play because he's not feeling right.

"It looked as though he was okay, but he's struggling a bit and he won't be available tomorrow. Against Cadiz I don't think Rudiger will be back, but Karim should be."

Benzema has started just 11 games across all competitions this season, scoring six goals. He managed 44 goals in 46 games last term, enough to win the highly prized Ballon d'Or award, marking him out as the top performer in world football over the 2021-22 campaign.

"Karim's lack of game-time has meant we have got to see other players with real quality, like [Federico] Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius [Junior]," said Ancelotti.

"We've coped well with Karim being out thanks to the quality of the other lads. When we come back after the World Cup, we'll need Karim for the second part of the season."

The Italian then sang the praises of Rodrygo, the 21-year-old Brazilian who has seven goals this season, saying he considers the youngster "more as a centre-forward than a wide man".

Ancelotti was also asked about comparisons between Rodrygo and Brazil great Ronaldo, but says the 21-year-old benefits from the quality around him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Ronaldo wasn't as fortunate as Rodrygo," Ancelotti said. "Back then, Real Madrid weren't as strong as they are now in the Champions League. 

"Rodrygo can make the most of that. If he reaches Ronaldo's levels on an individual basis, we'll be building a statue to him."

Carlo Ancelotti snapped back at suggestions Karim Benzema is playing less for Real Madrid as a precautionary measure ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup with France.

The veteran forward has not played since a 3-0 win over Elche in LaLiga almost a fortnight ago, instead reduced to a spectator on the sidelines for Los Blancos with a hamstring problem.

With the World Cup set to start later this month, Benzema – who was omitted from Didier Deschamps' title-winning squad at Russia 2018 – is hopeful of making the cut.

Speaking ahead of Madrid's Champions League clash with Celtic on Wednesday, Ancelotti shut down discussions the Ballon d'Or winner has been absent in order to facilitate his ticket to Qatar.

"Benzema hasn't played because he's picked up a couple of injuries," said the Italian. "He's 34, he looks after himself, and he's in good shape.

"He just hasn't been available. I am sure it is nothing to do with the World Cup, because a player needs to be fit and in good shape ahead of such a tournament.

Ancelotti hinted Benzema could make his return in midweek, as Madrid look to lock up top spot in Group F against their Scottish visitors at Santiago Bernabeu.

"He is training now," he added. "I have to decide if he starts, or if he features in the match. It depends on how he is feeling."

Benzema will be among the names Deschamps will almost certainly wish to include when he picks his squad for their title defence next week.

France will already be without World Cup winner Paul Pogba after the Juventus playmaker was confirmed to have fallen short in his recovery timetable.

Karim Benzema returned to individual training ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Celtic, having missed Los Blancos' past three games.

The Ballon d'Or winner sat out league meetings with Sevilla and Girona, as well as a Champions League defeat at RB Leipzig, after suffering from muscular fatigue in his left leg.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti recently revealed Benzema had undergone tests that came back clear, but the Champions League holders have been unwilling to take any risks with his fitness.

Benzema limped out of Madrid's 3-0 win at Celtic in September with a knee injury, and defending World Cup champions France will be watching on with interest as he prepares to return from his latest setback.

On Monday, a club statement revealed Benzema and Aurelien Tchouameni – who missed Sunday's draw with Girona due to a muscle injury – had trained individually ahead of Wednesday's match.

Benzema has missed five of Madrid's 12 games in LaLiga this season but has found the net five times in his seven appearances in the competition. 

Real Madrid will once again be without Karim Benzema when they face Girona on Sunday and Rodrygo is also an injury doubt.

Captain Benzema trained on Friday, but the Ballon d'Or winner is still being troubled by muscular fatigue in his left leg.

Los Blancos head coach Ancelotti on Saturday revealed his star striker has undergone tests, which came back all clear.

But Madrid will not take any risks with the France international's fitness, while forward Rodrygo may also miss the LaLiga clash with Girona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ancelotti said of Benzema: "Yesterday he trained, after that he wasn't feeling very well. We had some tests and everything was fine, but we just want to be careful.

"The tests were quite positive, there was no problem at all, but he isn't feeling 100 per cent, so we are going to remain calm with him."

Rodrygo did not train on Saturday due to an unspecified injury and his fitness will be assessed on the day of the game.

Luka Modric, Federico Valverde and Dani Ceballos are set to return for the league leaders.

Madrid were beaten 3-2 by RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday and Ancelotti expects a response from his players.

The Italian said: "I think the team learned [from the loss to Leipzig] that we need to prep for every game as if it's the most important of the season.

"Sometimes when you play every three days you need to recover physically and it is not easy to always stay motivated."

Carlo Ancelotti insists his Real Madrid players are not playing in fear of injuries before the World Cup, as Luka Modric and Karim Benzema were ruled out of their Champions League trip to RB Leipzig. 

Having established a four-point lead over Leipzig at the summit of Group F, Madrid can secure top spot with a game to spare by avoiding defeat against the Bundesliga outfit on Tuesday.

However, Madrid's efforts to do so could be hampered by the absences of Modric and Benzema, while in-form midfielder Federico Valverde has joined the duo on the sidelines after suffering a knock in Saturday's win over Sevilla.

All three players are set to feature when the World Cup begins in less than a month's time, but Ancelotti does not feel the tournament is impacting players' thoughts.

"I don't think they think about it. It is better to enter the World Cup well, with continuity," Ancelotti said at his pre-match news conference.

"They are small things, and we don't want to risk them at an important moment. It is better to lose Modric and Karim for one day than for a month.

"Injuries exist in football. If you don't want to get injured, stay on the couch. I tell my players that. 

"Nothing can be done. I don't think the players are worried about this. If anyone is afraid of training, I tell them to stay home; there are many good series and movies."

With Madrid also topping LaLiga after winning 10 of their first 11 games, Ancelotti believes the timing of the World Cup may benefit his side following a manic stretch of fixtures.

"It is a very intense period, with many games, too many," Ancelotti added. "We are holding it well. 

"We have some problems, which is normal when you play every three days. The World Cup comes at the right time."

Madrid's injury concerns could mean several fringe players get an opportunity to impress in Germany, including Marco Asensio, who recently said he was unhappy with his lack of minutes.

Ancelotti remains pleased with Asensio's application and is committed to discussing his future during the World Cup break.

"The club knows very well what I think, and so does Asensio. Soon there is a long break, and it is time to talk about this issue," Ancelotti said.

"Until the first phase is over, I don't think we should talk about this issue.

"What I ask of those who play less is that they be serious, professional and endure the difficult moments.

"That's what Asensio and the rest who play less do. Tomorrow we have casualties and their contribution can increase."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti believes the current Real Madrid squad may be the best that he has ever coached.

Lucas Vazquez and Federico Valverde scored in the final 15 minutes to propel Los Blancos to a 3-1 victory over Sevilla, which opened up a six-point lead over Barcelona – who face Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Victory at Santiago Bernabeu was Madrid's ninth in 10 LaLiga matches this season, with Ancelotti's side yet to taste defeat across all competitions – only being held twice overall, against Osasuna and Shakhtar Donetsk.

The valiant late surge left Ancelotti, who has won the Champions League in two separate stints with the club, to declare that the current crop of players may well be the best he has ever overseen in his career.

"I don't know if it's the most reliable of my career, but it's a team I like coaching," he said in the post-match press conference.

"It's a team that doesn't give me problems, that is respectful. And as a quality, it's one of the best I've ever had, if not the best."

Victory against Sevilla came alongside a shuffling of the deck as Ancelotti balanced Madrid's frantic schedule ahead of the World Cup in Qatar next month and he praised the performance of those that were brought in.

"These are resources that we have on the bench. The squad is healthy when those who play less enter the field and do very well," he added.

"We have to endure this stretch of the season, we need to continue suffering and win games."

Valverde picked up a knock in the game while Karim Benzema was not part of the matchday squad after a niggle in training, though the Italian coach was not concerned by either issue.

"Karim is very important for us and he will be more important in the second leg of the season. We're not worried, because it's a very small thing," he said.

"Valverde has a blow to the leg, it bothers him a little, we have to see him. I don't know if he's going to be able to recover. Benzema, I think will be back on Sunday."

Karim Benzema faces time on the Real Madrid sidelines after the Ballon d'Or winner was revealed to be suffering with muscular fatigue in his left leg.

With one month to go until France begin their World Cup campaign against Australia, the news of Benzema's exertions taking their toll may be of some concern to Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps.

For now, there is no suggestion Benzema will not be fit to play a full role in the Qatar 2022 tournament, but the injury announcement is a reminder all players are susceptible amid a packed fixture schedule for Europe's top clubs.

A Madrid club statement read: "Following tests carried out today on Karim Benzema by the Real Madrid medical services, he has been diagnosed with muscular fatigue in the quadricep muscle of his left leg. His recovery will be monitored."

Reports in Spain said that, as well as missing Saturday's game against Sevilla, Benzema was also expected to be absent for the Champions League fixture at RB Leipzig on Tuesday.

However, Benzema could be back for the LaLiga clash with Girona on Sunday, October 30, sports daily Marca reported.

Benzema won the Ballon d'Or for his feats last season, when his 44 goals in 46 games helped Madrid triumph in LaLiga and the Champions League.

He scored in last Sunday's 3-1 win over Barcelona as Madrid went clear at the top of the Spanish top flight, before netting again on Wednesday in the 3-0 victory at Elche, where he played the full 90 minutes.

Ilkay Gundogan says his "special" Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland can be a future contender to win the Ballon d'Or.

Since joining City from Borussia Dortmund in June, Haaland has scored 20 goals in 13 appearances and become the first player in Premier League history to score hat-tricks in three consecutive home games, the last of which came against rivals Manchester United in a 6-3 thrashing.

The 22-year-old was 10th in the 2022 Ballon d'Or rankings as Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema was named the best player in the world for the first time on Monday.

Gundogan believes Norway international Haaland has all the attributes to land the prestigious award.

"There is quality, everyone can see it," Gundogan told City's official website. "There is a lot of quality that he already brings, into our team, into his game.

"But also, the way he is dealing with things that are important to him and the mentality, the determination he has on a match day and also in the training sessions in the locker room. I think that is something special.

"On top of that he is humble. He knows he has to work hard to get where he is right now and to even get to better places.

"I'm sure that all this together will just improve him more and more, not just this season but in the next few years.

"It will make him an incredible player. He is already one, but he will just get better and I think this will increase his chances to win the Ballon d'Or."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been fined €602 for storming into the referee's changing room after his team's 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday.

First-half goals from Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde left Barcelona facing a 2-0 deficit at the break, but a Ferran Torres strike with seven minutes to play gave the visitors hope.

That was soon extinguished though as a VAR review led to the award of a Madrid penalty after Eric Garcia tripped Rodrygo, who scored from the spot to secure three points for his side and condemn Xavi's men to defeat.

The result sparked a furious reaction from Laporta, who confronted referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez in the official's changing room after the match.

The Competition Committee fined him on Wednesday, citing article 133 of the disciplinary code, which relates to non-compliance with orders, as well as article 255, which stipulates those who access the changing rooms when they are not allowed to face potential sanctions.

Sunday's defeat saw Madrid leapfrog Barca to the top of LaLiga, another blow for Laporta's team after their Champions League hopes were left hanging by a thread following a 3-3 home draw against Inter last week.

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