AL SHAMAL: German forward Serge Gnabry says it felt “weird” to be playing at a World Cup in the middle of the league season, but conceded there were advantages too. It came hours after another World Cup star, France’s Karim Benzema, was ruled out of the tournament in Qatar through injury. Many believe that the large number of injuries is down to too many matches being played in a short space of time to accommodate the winter tournament. Germany begin their World Cup on Wednesday against Japan. “I feel that we are all in a good rhythm after the Bundesliga, Champions League and German Cup, where we have played a lot,” said Bayern Munich’s Gnabry. “On the other hand, it feels weird to come out of this rhythm, into the completely different conditions that we have here.” Gnabry, who has scored six goals in his past six games for Bayern, said he “travelled (to Qatar) broad-chested, with plenty of self-confidence after my performances in the past few games”. “It can also be good because you transition directly into the games, which I think for many players — for every player – is better than a long preparation and a long training camp,” he said of the upsides to a mid-season World Cup. “Because of that, I have mixed feelings, but I think we will be glad when it gets going, as soon as we get in rhythm again and play the first couple of games.” Germany lost forwards Marco Reus and Timo Werner to injury before the tournament, while Gnabry’s Bayern teammate Sadio Mane will also miss the tournament for Senegal with a leg injury.