The German ex-Arsenal winger/striker Lukas Podolski and the France hitman Karim Benzema are both very annoyed with the furore in their home countries surrounding the player selections for the Euros.
The 30 year-old Podolski has been criticised in Germany for being selected when everyone really knows that Joachim Low is unlikely to play him during the competition. The media in fact have accused Low of picking Poldi simply as a “mascot” for the team.
As the third most-capped German of all time, there have been sideswipes saying he is there to help with morale rather than the football. Podolski is not happy that the media doesn’t think he is there on merit. “It is wonderful as always”, he said.
“You knows the DFB. It does everything so that we can achieve what we want, to become European champions.
“I definitely do not come here as a mascot. This is an outrage which I do not deserve. I have an important role.”
As someone said on Justarsenal, perhaps he is there as Social Media Relations Officer, but according to his boss, he is there to help the team win the competition. “I know that Lukas can bring the power not that we expect from him.” Low said. “I look forward to the European Championship. The aim is to become European champions. Whether he plays or not.”
Well that’s fair enough I guess. We have Mesut Ozil in the German squad so we’ll have an interest in their games. Karim Benzema, on the other hand, is annoyed that he has NOT been picked for France, despite the accusations hanging over him (which he denies completely, by the way). He thinks he should be there on merit (he is a Champions League winner after all) but he is worried that Didier Deschamps has been influenced by racist elements in France.
Here is what Benzema said in an interview with MARCA, and translated by GetFootballNewsFrance.com:
On his state of mind:
In life, we must not be spiteful. We have to learn from our mistakes and in difficult times, think. Now, I am calm, composed, I have won to the maximum with Real Madrid. France will realise that she was unfair to me.
On EURO 2016:
I was already very disappointed not to be part of the 2010 World Cup, but the Euros at home is even harder to take. It is one of my greatest disappointments, without any doubt, but aside from that, in life I have known other difficult moments.
You have to get back up and I want to go as far as possible in my career. From a football perspective, I would have had a place in the team. But then they invented all these stories and it is hard, of course, to accept and forget it. Luckily, I have always felt that Real Madrid was on my side. Also, I won the Champions League and things are going a little better.
On his critics:
They criticise me a lot in France, me, my family and my entourage, but if I was a bad person, if I was poorly advised, I would not be where I am today. 5 years at Lyon, 7 years in Madrid, winning titles.
On coming back to the French national team:
Of course. They made up a rule: “not selectable” – ok. But in terms of football, I do not understand why, and from a legal point of view, I have not had a trial, I am not guilty, we will have to wait until the court reaches a verdict.
From the moment that I am again available for selection, if they want me, for me there is no problem. I love football and I love to play for my national team.
On Didier Deschamps:
Is he racist like Cantona suggests? No, I don’t think so. But he gave into pressure from a racist part of France. You have to know that in France, the extreme party reached the second round of the most recent elections.
So I do not know if it was only Didier’s decision, because I get on well with him, with the president as well. With everyone really.
On his popularity:
I have more than 40 million fans on social media and people says that people do not like me. It is ridiculous. There was lots of pressure, certainly, but that is the fault of certain journalists who said things on TV that were not true.
On Mathieu Valbuena:
In this story, the only person who knows what happens, who knows the truth, is Valbuena. He played a role, he did not tell the truth, because if had have done so we would not be where we are today.
I wanted to help him, nothing more, and the situation came back to bite me.
I can’t help wondering if these two situations will have a big effect on the outcome of the Euros. Germany pick someone to help with the morale of the side, whereas Deschamp’s selection has caused divisiveness between the fans. I think I would rather back a happy team that an unhappy one.
Mesut Ozil to win the Euros!