Real Madrid boss Zidane on Benzema’s France exclusion

Zinedine Zidane has said he can’t understand why Karim Benzema doesn’t play for France after the striker grabbed two goals and an assist in Real Madrid‘s 3-1 win at Celta Vigo in their last La Liga game before the international break.

Benzema scored his first after 20 minutes at Balaidos, and another 10 minutes later — both from Toni Kroos passes — as Madrid moved ahead of Barcelona into second place and within three points of leaders Atletico Madrid.

– Ratings: Benzema 9/10 as Ream Madrid beat Celta Vigo

The brace means Benzema — who hasn’t been called up by France coach Didier Deschamps since 2015 — has 17 league goals this season, and has scored eight in his last six games in all competitions.

“You don’t understand it, I don’t understand it, there are many people who don’t,” Zidane said, when asked about Deschamps’ refusal to call on Benzema. “For me as Real Madrid coach, it’s better he stays with us, that’s for sure. What he did today with his teammates was spectacular. He’s hard-working and he wants more.”

Benzema’s exclusion from the France national team in 2015 has stemmed from his alleged involvement — for which he is due to stand trial — in a conspiracy to blackmail former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

The French Football Federation’s initial decision to suspend Benzema was followed by Deschamps omitting Benzema from their Euro 2016 squad.

The striker responded by claiming that Deschamps had “bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France” in leaving him out.

“As long as Deschamps is the national team coach, I won’t have a chance of coming back,” Benzema said in 2017.

While Benzema stays in Madrid during next week’s international window, teammates Raphael Varane and Ferland Mendy will join up with France — while Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Thibaut Courtois have also been called up by their countries.

“We know the calendar, there are a lot of games, but we’ll keep going, for now the players are fine,” Zidane said, when asked about the busy fixture list. “[Modric and Kroos] will go away with their national teams and they’ll play games, for me as Real Madrid coach that isn’t ideal, but we can’t do anything about it.”

Zidane also confirmed that Ramos should be fit to feature for Spain, despite missing Real Madrid’s win in Vigo with a knock.

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