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Feb 8, 2013

France team-mates backing Benzema

Karim Benzema's France team-mates have rallied round the forward as he tries to find a solution to his goalscoring drought.

Benzema, 25, drew another blank for Les Bleus in Wednesday's Paris friendly defeat against Germany, meaning he has not found the net for his country in 839 minutes.

Things are little better at his club, Real Madrid, for whom he has hit only five goals in 18 La Liga games and 12 overall - six fewer than at the same stage last season - and been relegated to the bench for the last four league games.

But his international colleagues believe it is only a matter of time before the goals return, with Bacary Sagna telling L'Equipe: "You don't need to worry about Karim. Karim brings a lot to the squad. When you play less or score less for your club, you get criticised. But don't worry about Karim. He's still got it."

Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, 28, opened the scoring for France in the 2-1 defeat to Germany after a Benzema free-kick had hit the bar, and said: "He's still a great striker.

"He's scoring less right now, but we know he's a goalscorer. Even if he doesn't play all the time, he still scores. It's been a while since he scored for France, but he'll quickly pick himself up."

In his post-match press conference, France coach Didier Deschamps defended Benzema's display against the Germans, saying: "He did a lot of good things, but he's lacking that confidence a forward needs, as well as a little bit of luck."

Meanwhile, former France international Jean-Pierre Papin believes the national team playing Arsenal's Olivier Giroud more could help take the pressure off Benzema, telling L'Equipe: "That could be a solution to give him more confidence.

"He needs to play more for his club. I've been impressed by Karim as he's never said anything about his situation. For me, given his playing time and his stats, it's not enough, and it mustn't be for him either. But things can change very quickly, and I'm not worried for him."

In his column for the paper, Bixente Lizarazu said he felt the World Cup qualifier against Georgia on March 22 provided Benzema with an opportunity to boost his self-belief four days before Spain arrive in Paris.

"The match against Georgia is particularly important for Karim to finally end his drought and put himself in the best possible frame of mind for the game against Spain," he wrote.

"Benzema's problem is perhaps he's got too many qualities. He can also score, but he's not a sharpshooter like Gerd Muller or Pippo Inzaghi."

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