Mbappe excited to team up with Benzema

Chris Rivers
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May 21st 2021, 1:57 pm
Last Updated 4 weeks ago
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France forward Kylian Mbappe is relishing the prospect of teaming up with Karim Benzema at Euro 2020 this summer after the Real Madrid forward received a shock recall to Didier Deschamps’ squad for the finals.

Benzema’s France career had appeared to be over after he was exiled from the squad in 2015, with his last appearance for Les Bleus coming in a friendly victory over Armenia in October of that year – a match he scored twice in.

The 33-year-old subsequently had to watch on as France went on to reach the final of Euro 2016 on home soil before going one better at the World Cup in Russia two years later, as they were crowned world champions for the second time.

The blow of missing out on that international success has been softened for Benzema, who has continued to lift major honours at club level, helping Real to three successive Champions League triumphs between 2016-18 as well as La Liga glory last season.

However, it appears the former Lyon striker has always harboured hopes of returning to the international stage and he has now been granted that chance following Deschamps’ decision to include him in his 26-man squad for this summer’s rescheduled Euros.

Benzema is likely to make his return to action with France in their pre-tournament warm-up matches against Wales and Bulgaria at the start of June and one man that is looking forward to playing alongside the 81-cap forward is Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe.

Mbappe was just 16 when Benzema made his last appearance for France and he has been able to establish himself as one of his country’s star players despite the absence of his compatriot.

The 22-year-old underlined his world-class qualities by both scoring and assisting in PSG’s Coupe de France triumph over Monaco on Wednesday night and, following that game, he revealed his excitement at the prospect of teaming up with Benzema.

“I’m very happy, I’ve always said I wanted to play with great players,” Mbappe told reporters. “There are not a lot of top players in the world better than Benzema.

“He played in Madrid for 10 years. The pressure, he knows, he has the experience, he has the talent above all.

“It’s easy to adapt with the big players. So, I’m sure we will all adapt very quickly.”

France have been handed a tough draw for Euro 2020, as they have been pitted in Group F alongside defending champions Portugal, 2014 World Cup winners Germany and a Hungary side that made it through to the knockout stages of the last Euros.

Les Bleus will get their campaign underway against Germany in Munich on June 15 and Benzema could well start that match alongside Mbappe.

However, Benzema’s return to the starting XI is far from guaranteed and he will be vying for a place in the side along with Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, who was France’s regular starter under Deschamps at the 2018 World Cup.

Barcelona star Antoine Griezmann could also occupy that role, as could Wissam Ben Yedder, who has enjoyed an impressive season in Ligue 1 with Monaco.

Chris Rivers

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor.