France’s Matuidi called up for qualifiers
France called up Saint-Etienne midfielder Blaise Matuidi on
Wednesday to cover for injured midfielder Yohan Cabaye, and doubts
remained whether striker Karim Benzema will play in European
Championship qualifiers against Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
France coach Laurent Blanc summoned the uncapped Matuidi as a
replacement for Cabaye, who left the Clairefontaine training center
because of a small tear to his left thigh.
Benzema also underwent medical tests on Wednesday after he
received a knock on his right ankle during training earlier this
”Karim Benzema’s medical checks are reassuring,” France
spokesman Philippe Tournon said. ”We will make a decision on
whether he can play on Friday.”
Five other players – Loic Remy, Adil Rami, Guillaume Hoarau,
Mamadou Sakho and Abou Diaby – trained apart from the rest of the
squad without a ball.
Blanc will be without Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra, who
picked up a hamstring strain last weekend, and the injured Samir
Nasri for its Euro 2012 qualifying opener against Belarus on
France then plays at Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sept. 7.
Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff is not allowed to play after being
sent off at the World Cup while Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra,
Franck Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan are unavailable after they were
suspended by the French federation following the squad’s training
strike in South Africa.
Matuidi was selected for a friendly against Norway last month
but didn’t play.
About 300 fans attended France’s training session, which was
marked by Zinedine Zidane’s return at the team’s training
Zidane lunched with the players and they watched videos of
France’s 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship title
The purpose of Zidane’s visit, and that of former France
goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, is Blanc’s way of showing the young
players how proud they should be to represent their country after
the debacle in South Africa.
”It can’t do them any harm,” Zidane said. ”I spoke to them
about my experiences with the France team.”
Blanc had asked his former France teammate to join the players
at training to give them some extra motivation.
”Everyone knows what he achieved during his career but not
everyone knows the man himself,” Blanc said. ”He is an
interesting character and the players will be able to get up close
Blanc and Zidane were part of the France team which won the 1998
World Cup and the Euro 2000.
On Friday, France will play its first home game since its World