Next personal setback for football world champions France: Lucas Hernández, defender of record champions FC Bayern Munich, was injured and replaced early on in the 4-1 win against Australia.
It was clear on Wednesday night: Hernández will no longer be available for the rest of the World Cup in Qatar due to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Immediately before the start of the tournament, national coach Didier Deschamps had to cope with the loss of top scorer Karim Benzema. Paul Pogba, Christopher Nkunku from Leipzig, N’Golo Kante and Presnel Kimpembe are also missing anyway.
“We realized immediately that it was something worse,” said France captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after the game against the Socceroos: “Of course it’s a setback, but we’re going on and looking ahead.”
The teammates were shocked too. Olivier Giroud had just shot himself into the history books, but the Equipe Tricolore’s all-time record goalscorer showed no signs of elation. “We are sad about Lucas, we want to dedicate this win to him,” Giroud said after the win against Australia.
After the defending champion’s sporting debut at the World Cup in Qatar, Deschamps had already suspected that Hernández could have been “very seriously” caught.
Hernández fell to the ground in the early stages of an unsuccessful defensive action and then held his right knee. It quickly became clear that things couldn’t go on. Supported by paramedics, he hobbled off the field, Deschamps spoke of a “heavy blow” for his team.
Australia had taken the lead through Craig Goodwin (9′) in the attack that injured Hernández. But then “we showed character and came back,” Deschamps praised his team. Adrien Rabiot (27′), Giroud (32′, 71′) and Kylian Mbappé (68′) scored for the defending champions at Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah. Giroud now has 51 international goals, level with Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Now Deschamps is in demand again. “Now I have to think about how to replace Lucas,” he said, “but we have alternatives.”
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