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

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

Five days before heading into the World Cup against Australia, the 26 Blues discovered the Jassim bin Hamad stadium, the Al Sadd club’s usual den, where around 400 supporters, mostly guests of the French Bonaparte school in Doha, were chanting the names of Benzema and Kylian Mbappé by force.

The French could smell the perfume of the World Championship with more than 200 journalists and photographers present to attend the session at nightfall, below 28 degrees and significant humidity. On the sidelines, French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët spoke at length with Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, PSG president since the arrival of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in 2011 in the French capital.

Varane and Benzema are late

In the stands, 2018 World Champion Steven Nzonzi, Al Rayyan player, came to see his former partners. Spared since the start of the rally on Monday, Benzema and Varane, under the guidance of fitness coach Cyril Moine, performed exercises (sprints, changes of direction, tone work etc.) separately before starting their program of sheaths, push-ups and stretches.

The two players fell slightly behind when it came to the expected passing times: Coach Didier Deschamps said on Monday that he hoped “everyone can be in the collection unit on Thursday”.

Smiling Blues walked the grass 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 opener (8pm) as the vice-captain has not played since suffering a worrying hamstring injury on October 22.

The situation remains unclear regarding Benzema, whose last full-length game dates back to October 19. The Real Madrid striker has been complaining of persistent thigh problems for several weeks without being able to pinpoint the nature of his physical problems.

Alarm for Olivier Giroud

The last joint training session in France on Tuesday night was marred by the injury of striker Christopher Nkunku (sprained knee), who has since been replaced in the group by Randal Kolo Muani.

The Blues were apparently spared the bad news on Thursday, despite a warning about Olivier Giroud. The AC Milan striker complained of pain in his left foot after a shot and remained on the ground for some time before recovering and completing training with no apparent discomfort. A training session is scheduled for the end of the day on Friday, this time behind closed doors.

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