Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says Frenchman Karim Benzema is “distraught” about being left out of the squad for this year’s European Championship, the only major tournament to be played in his home country during his career.
The 28-year-old Real striker, at the peak of his game, was told on Wednesday that he would not be included in the squad because of his alleged involvement in a blackmail scandal.
Former France captain Zidane would not comment on the French Federation’s decision at a news conference on Friday.
“I spoke to Karim about it after they made a decision not to call him up, I’m not going to speak much about that because it’s not my place, all I can say is the player is upset and distraught, he wanted to be there,” Zidane said.
“We all know what a player he is and what he can contribute. On a sporting level everyone who loves football will be disappointed, but I told him he will have an exciting end to the season,” said Zidane, who was part of the France team that won the 1998 World Cup on home soil.
Real will play Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals and are third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Barcelona.
They travel to struggling Getafe on Saturday hoping to put pressure on stuttering leaders Barca, who have lost three of their last four matches in all competitions.
Getafe have not won a league game since Jan. 17 and are 19th in the table. They replaced coach Fran Escriba with Juan Esnaider this week.
“I don’t like the atmosphere around the Getafe game at all,” Zidane said.
“It seems that we’re going to win easily at Getafe but it’s not like that, it won’t be easy at all against a team playing for their lives.
They have a new coach who I know, it’s going to be difficult, we have to play first tomorrow and play well so we don’t get a surprise.”