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World Cup: France could have an ace up their sleeve in Karim Benzema

With France booking their place in the World Cup final, the reigning champions could be handed a massive boost with the return of Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema.

A 2-0 victory over Morocco in the semi-finals on Wednesday means Les Bleus have made a return to the showpiece event after beating Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final in Russia.

With Argentina between them and a third world title, France could look to Benzema to make a shock return in the final on Sunday.

What: Argentina v France, World Cup final
Where: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
When: 15:00, Sunday 18th December 2022
How to watch: BBC1 &  ITV
Odds: Argentina 9/5, Draw 2/1, France 7/4

French end Morocco's journey

It has been an exciting ride for Morocco at the World Cup in Qatar but their journey to try and reach the final in the Middle East was brought to an end on Wednesday night.

The Atlas Lions, aiming to become the first African nation to reach a World Cup final, held their own and had chances to score but in the end it was France's experience that shone through.

Goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani saw the title-holders through to the final, where they will face an Argentina side that beat Croatia 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Morocco will still have one game to play in the third-place playoff and they are 21/10 Full Time Result to win, 12/5 to draw and 13/10 to lose against Croatia at Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday. 

Benzema linked with sensational return

After the heartbreak of suffering a thigh injury in training leading up to France's first game of the World Cup against Australia, Benzema could still have a role to play at this major tournament.

France did not call up a replacement after the Real Madrid forward, who won the Ballon d'Or earlier this year, was seemingly ruled out for the tournament.

With Benzema technically still part of the squad and with suggestions he's ahead of schedule in his recovery from his thigh injury, the 34-year-old has been linked with being reunited with the team ahead of Sunday's showpiece event in Lusail.

France boss Didier Deschamps was asked about Benzema's availability after the win over Morocco.

The former midfielder seemed exacerbated by the question and said he would "prefer not to answer".

Of course the most telling part of that exchange with the journalist was that Deschamps did not rule out a return for Benzema, when he had the perfect opportunity to do so if he wished.

That has heightened suggestions the former Lyon striker could head back out to the Middle East ahead of the final this weekend.

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What role could Benzema play?

With France doing so well in Benzema's absence and with his recent injury, it's unlikely to see the Los Blancos star slot back into the starting XI to face the Argentines.

The partnership between Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud has worked wonders in attack for the French.

Mbappe and Giroud have scored nine goals between them at this World Cup and the pair are both competing for the Golden Boot at odds of 21/20 and 10/1 respectively. 

What is far more likely is that if Benzema does make a return to the squad, he takes up a role on the bench.

Should Argentina hold the lead going into the latter stages of the contest, Benzema would be the ideal impact substitute for the French to try and turn things around.

Benzema was key in helping Real Madrid in seamlessly helpless situations in the Champions League last season.

A handful of times it looked like Real were going to crash out of the tournament before moments of inspiration from Benzema.

Real eventually went on to lift the Champions League trophy and he will be desperate to help his country claim back-to-back World Cups.

France are 7/4 Full Time Result to win the final in regulation time, with the draw at 2/1 and Argentina at 9/5

In the World Cup Outright market there is nothing to choose from between the two teams, with both sides at 10/11 to Lift the Trophy in Qatar.

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