Following a scandal involving Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, both players have been left out of the French squad by manager Didier Deschamps for the upcoming Euro 2016, to be played on home soil.
However, the absence of the Real Madrid striker will be felt the most as he would usually be an automatic pick for the national team.
Benzema was reportedly caught in a blackmailing incident with Valbuena, which has been a major talking point for over a year.
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Deschamps was therefore forced to omit both players from the squad due to the off-pitch incident and the resulting negative publicity.
The Real Madrid forward was almost guaranteed a place in the French first team, if not for the scandal, and his absence could provide World Cup winner Deschamps with a headache in selecting a striker to spearhead the French front line.
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In a club that contains the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Benzema has repeatedly proven his worth and cemented his place in the first team.
The French striker scored 28 goals last season in just 35 games, maintaining his proud record of scoring more than 20 goals every season with the Los Blancos since his arrival in 2009.
Over the years, several world class players have been let go by the club including Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso, Angel di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Sami Khedira among others, but Benzema's unrelenting sharpness in front of goal has cemented his place at the club.
The former Lyon striker has managed to stake his place as Real's primary striker for six years, which is a commendable feat considering the high frequency at which players are sold by the club.
Benzema is what one would call a perfect striker, possessing great aerial ability in addition to exquisite ball control and clinical finishing, something that has enabled him to play alongside a variety of players with different abilities, allowing the Frenchman to play well for both club and country.
Loss for France
The 28-year-old was one of the in-form players for France during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, contributing three goals and assists for the Les Blues, helping the former World Cup winners to reach the quarter-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Germany in a tight encounter.
At the age of 28, the Real Madrid forward possesses just the right amount of experience to spearhead a team's attack and lead from the front.
Therefore, although Deschamps has a decent contingency of strikers to choose from other than Benzema, the Real Madrid forward's loss will surely be felt.
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud is the next best option for France, as the 29-year-old is one of the more experienced players in the squad. However, the forward's lack of pace and tenacity in front of goal could hurt the host nation's attacking prowess.
Andre-Pierre Gignac, also included in the French squad for the Euros, is a capable replacement for Benzema, but the Lyon striker's lack of experience in playing against top opposition could have subdued his sharpness in front of goal.
Manchester United's young forward Anthony Martial might be best suited to take the place of Benzema in France's attack.
The 20-year-old already possesses great pace, power, skill and maturity, making him the ideal candidate to replace Benzema.
However, Martial's lack of experience on the international stage, nevertheless a major tournament, poses question marks on the striker's pedigree.
In Benzema's absence, Deschamps could be forced to put more emphasis on the midfield to support the attack. Consisting of players such as Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi, N'Golo Kante, Dimitri Payet, Kingsley Coman and Yohan Cabaye, France's greatest strength could lie in midfield.
The Les Blues have a strong team overall, which might cushion the blow suffered by Benzema's absence, however, fans will be left to wonder what the team could have achieved if the Real Madrid man was selected in the squad.
Will France miss Karim Benzema at Euro 2016? Or will they still win the tournament on home soil without him? Let us know YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!
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