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Laurens: France's "Next XI"

Ligue 1
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By ESPN Staff

Benzema must be himself - Deschamps

France coach Didier Deschamps has urged Karim Benzema to "be himself" at the World Cup.

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The Real Madrid striker has scored in four of his last five matches for Les Bleus, yet missed the last two warmup games for his nation due to his involvement in the Champions League final, which Los Blancos won 4-1 against rivals Atletico Madrid.

While there is added pressure on the 26-year-old in Brazil following the loss of Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribery to injury, Deschamps believes the striker can inspire France at the tournament by leading from the front.

"It would serve no purpose to ask more of Karim," Goal reports Deschamps as telling reporters in preparation for Les Bleus' friendly against Jamaica on Sunday. "When you are trying to score at all costs, any player can lose some of their natural instinct.

"He must play like he can do and does at Real Madrid. You know Karim; when he scores he is very happy.

"I just want him to be himself. When he is at the peak of his abilities, of course he is a player who pulls the whole team up."

Benzema scored 17 goals in 35 La Liga appearances as Real finished third in Primera Division this season, while five goals in 11 Champions League performances helped Carlo Ancelotti's side land La Decima -- a tenth European Cup triumph.


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