Wink and thumbs up in the direction of the few supporters present, the Real Madrid striker walked through the doors of the Yvelines base camp around 12:15 p.m., among the very first of the squad to respond to the coach’s summons, a noted an AFP photographer.
“Welcome Benzeback!”, Was thus scrawled on the piece of cardboard brandished by a fan of “KB9”, come to watch for this eagerly awaited return, scarf around the neck and tricolor cap screwed on the head, in the company of half a dozen ‘other supporters.
Behind his mask with the blue-white-red border, Benzema was able to measure the distance traveled since his last visit to the Château. Since October 7, 2015, the day before his last match with the Blues against Armenia in Nice (4-0), more than half a decade has passed without the center forward being able to wear the colors of his country.
“It’s going to make me weird”
In question, the case of the “sextape” suffered by his teammate in selection Mathieu Valbuena, prelude to an international exclusion, by choice of the coach, then to an indictment for “complicity in attempted blackmail “.
But against all expectations, Deschamps did not finally wait for the judicial outcome of the case, judged in October, to recall Benzema. This summons to the list of 26 players called up for the Euro (June 11-July 11), the coach has matured at length, after a decisive head-to-head with the 33-year-old striker.
So he’s back five years and seven months later, alongside players he has never seen on a daily basis such as Ousmane Dembélé or Kylian Mbappé, with one more star embroidered on his official tracksuit, and soon an unusual N.19 on the back.
“I have the chance to play with Raphaël Varane in Madrid and he told me that everyone was expecting me, that everyone was happy. I have no apprehension about my integration, I’m sure it’s okay. super well going “, anticipated the striker with 81 caps (27 goals) in an interview with L’Equipe.
His return eclipses the other stakes of the meeting fixed long ago by the management of the Blues: this May 26 gives the official “starting signal” of the preparation for the Euro, a very tight period of twenty days before the entry competing in Munich against Germany on June 15, in an ultra-tough group F with Portugal and Hungary.
This reunion would almost make you forget that the reigning world champions and vice-champions of Europe will have, as since the start of the season, to adapt to a complex health situation, with a health bubble enveloping a delegation deprived of almost any contact with outside.
Benzema steals the show from other passengers en route to the Euro, also expected Wednesday in Yvelines. Among them, the executives Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann and Raphaël Varane, the less expected Marcus Thuram and the neophyte Jules Koundé, brilliant element of the Hopes generation propelled at 22 years old with the Blues for the Euro.
Corentin Tolisso, midfielder of Bayern Munich, opened the ball shortly before noon, under the flashes of some photographers who came to immortalize this always symbolic event.
In the evening, after the traditional routine medical examinations, the management will already have some information on the physical condition of the troops, worn out by a season condensed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He will then be able to take a close look at the final of the Europa League, hoping that Paul Pogba, who plays it with Manchester United against Villarreal in Gdansk (Poland), escapes physical glitches at the last minute.
The Mancunien will then be the 23rd man to join the France group, while waiting for the last three laggards, engaged with Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday: Kurt Zouma, N’Golo Kanté and Olivier Giroud.