Benzema ready for Bosnian challenge
France's Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has declared himself fit and ready for the challenge of reviving his country's footballing fortunes in Tuesday's second UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Bosnia.
The 22-year-old, who has scored eight goals in his 28 apperances for France, has recovered from an ankle injury which ruled him out of the opening 1-0 home defeat by Belarus on Friday.
Benzema is likely to lead the line on Tuesday in what should prove to be a real test against a Bosnian side that just failed to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ finals.
He insists he is more than ready to take up the challenge which has been made tougher by the fact coach Laurent Blanc has lost three of his first choice forwards - Loic Remy, Louis Saha and Guillaume Hoarau - to injury since the Belarus defeat.
"I am ready to make a lot of sacrifices to establish myself at Real," said Benzema, referring to his difficult maiden season last term after a €35million transfer from Lyon.
"I am ready to fight for my place at both Real and the French team. I have had a year of adapting which did not go really well at Real, but this year I have come with new ambitions, that of playing regularly. I am fit, I have returned to training normally, and I am fine physically."
Benzema has also received praise from his national team coach, Blanc, who said: "In terms of his morale, I would say that he is ready in his head, and ready to make certain sacrifices notably on the level of diet. I am happy to hear him say that, for to succeed at a big club like Real, it is necessary to have both footballing and psychological qualities."
Blanc's fellow FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 winner, Fabien Barthez, said that Benzema was fortunate to have two strong characters as his coaches at club and international level.
"Karim has this speed of shot, this acceleration, that he lines up his shots really quickly, but I repeat, that is not sufficient, in clubs like that (Real Madrid), there are only great players, and Karim is not yet one," said Barthez, who is acting as a consultant for the French goalkeepers.
"He has the good fortune to have Laurent (as national coach) and Jose Mourinho (coach of Real), who he can listen to, and who he can look at and observe what is going on around him, and his mark of greatness will come, there is no reason why not, he has all the qualities that is required."