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Football | France

Deschamps still believes in Benzema

Karim Benzema has not scored for France in eight months but coach Didier Deschamps is confident the striker can make a positive contribution in Wednesday's friendly against Germany.

Benzema netted 21 goals in 34 La Liga games for Real last season but has proved far less prolific this term, scoring only five goals in 18 league matches.

Benzema's last goals for France came in June when the 25-year-old struck twice in a friendly against Estonia.

The forward, who has scored 15 goals in 54 internationals, has started only nine times in La Liga this season as he struggles to find his form.

"It's a situation that he has to deal with. It is not easy not to play too much but he has experience and France can give him that (playing time)," Deschamps told a news conference at the Stade de France on Tuesday.

"He wants to be more efficient but he can do other things. Setting up goals can also be rewarding."

At last year's European Championship, Benzema played deep on the pitch, setting up both goals in the 2-0 win over Ukraine in the group stage. He also set up Franck Ribery for France's third goal in their 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Belarus in September.

Benzema may be toothless in front of goal but he is one of the few world-class players France have, according to Deschamps.

"If you ask our opponents - Italy, Spain, Germany - who are the two or three players they fear, Benzema is among those," the coach said, adding that he needed to make some adjustments so that Benzema can fit in the game plan.

"He is more of a centre forward, although he likes to sometimes play deeper or on the flank. It means we have to compensate so that we always have a presence in front of goal."

Against Belarus last September and against Japan last October, Benzema started on the right flank with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud as the front man, an option Deschamps is considering for Wednesday's game.


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