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.
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.