Before the first match of the World Cup for France there were some questions about which players would be in the starting lineup. Coach Didier Deschamps made the right decision to stick with Karim Benzema over Olivier Giroud. The decision may have been based on the last year rather than performances of late as Giroud has shown well in the last few international matches. Benzema had a hand in all three goals for France as they beat Honduras on Sunday. He let everyone on the field know that he can turn a game around on a dime.
Honduras did go down to 10 men in the first half, but France made the most of it. Some will say that Benzema was the beneficiary of luck, but often times one has to be good to get the luck. Benzema was a threat all day, and he looked motivated. Perhaps it was a feeling of needing to pick up the slack after Franck Ribery was ruled out of the competition. The performance was probably fueled by confidence that has built over the last year from his play with Real Madrid. He scored 17 goals and played a role in the Copa Del Rey final and the Champions League.
Even with the luck, the goals from Benzema show how ready he is to take on the striker responsibilities for France. The first was scored on a penalty kick, but he didn’t hesitate running up to the ball. He blasted it toward the keeper’s right sending a message with the blast. He knew what he was going to do, and it was going to be on his terms.
The second goal ended up being credited as an own goal, but it was the run of Benzema that made it possible. He was picked out by a teammate at the far post and ran onto the ball as if there were no defenders. The flick back across goal was a delicate touch. Thanks to a keeper’s bobble, France was well on their way.
The third goal was the true statement goal. Benzema was on the end of a pinballing ball after a corner. He found himself in space at a tough angle, but it was no problem for the talented forward. Benzema drilled it into the top of the net from close quarters. There is talent in the France midfield, and if they can give Benzema a small amount of space, he looks to be good enough to make the opponent pay.
Benzema has not had the greatest reputation, but Sunday’s performance showed that he has a goal of helping his team. With a good chance to get out of the group after taking the opening three points, Benzema will be called on to keep scoring. He will also be watched closer by the opposition, but with his current level of confidence he will find a way to be a threat.