Benzema shines as France pummel Jamaica
By S. Willis
Karim Benzema marked his return to action for Les Bleus with a stunning brace and three assists as France walloped Jamaica 8-0 for an outstanding win in their final warm-up match before the World Cup in Brazil.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
France 8 - 0 Jamaica
France boss Didier Deschamps' opting to start Karim Benzema on the left of his 4-3-3 formation - in place of the injured Franck Ribéry - paid dividends on Sunday night in Lille as Les Bleus turned in the most impressive display of their World Cup warm-up campaign for a comprehensive win.
Many had expected Deschamps to go with either Antoine Griezmann or Loïc Rémy in Ribéry's place, but the canny France boss took a gamble by pairing strikers Benzema with central striker Olivier Giroud and the Real Madrid star responded by bagging a brace - almost a hat-trick, had the frame of the goal not intervened - and three assists.
Style and substance
More promising than the result against Jamaica, a side in a re-building phase after failing to qualify for Brazil, was the fluid and free-wheeling performance Deschamps' charges turned in - especially in attack - with Benzema and Giroud linking up superbly with playmaker Mathieu Valbuena and midfielders Cabaye, Matuidi and Moussa Sissoko to run the visiting defence ragged.
Cabaye started the show as early as the 17th minute, Valbuena and Giroud combining to set the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder up for a fine finish (17'), and with Cabaye's clubmate Matuidi firing low to Jacomeno Barrett's right from outside the area (20') and Benzema bagging his first with a superb lofted curler through a packed area (38'), France went into the break a convincing three-nil up.
There was little resistance from a Jamaica side overwhelmed by France's organisation and quality, and even though Deschamps rang several changes in the second half, it continued to be one-way traffic.
The blitz continues
Giroud maintained France's momentum as he hammered home from close range following Benzema's sublime first-time assist (53') - the two strikers proving that there is no lack of understanding between them - and then the former OL youngster bagged his second with another class strike, curled into the top left-hand corner with power from outside the area to make it 5-0 (63').
Matuidi then completed his own double with a clinical strike from Patrice Evra's cross (66') and when Griezmann the scoreline took on a cricket-like aspect, the Real Sociedad star gratefully converting Benzema's third assist of the evening (77') before turning on the style to flick home Sissoko's low cross at the near post with a cheeky back-heeled finish (89').
... and now, the world!
A comprehensive win for France that came at the perfect time, reassuring all involved that Deschamps and his men can head to Brazil without key forward Ribéry and still mix it with the world's best - starting with their opener against Honduras on June 15.