“Am I getting better, like a good wine?” asked Olivier Giroud rhetorically, after he scored the goal that took France to the quarter-finals of the World Cup against England and also surpassed Thierry Henry’s all-time goalscoring record for France.
The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker has never been the most popular of players but, after a career of 117 caps for France, 52 international goals, a World Cup medal, league titles in Italy and France and winners’ medals in the Champions League League, Europa League and FA Cup, recognition is finally avalanche.
Arsene Wenger said last week that people should “kneel to” Giroud’s career and there is also an argument that France are more effective with him at the top of the attacking formation than they would have been with the injured Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema.
This is due to the way Giroud connects the game and is so adept at getting the best of even Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Greizmann and Ousmane Dembele around him.
At 36, Giroud says “many friends” have told him he is still improving and, following France’s 3-1 win against Poland, he stressed he wants to extend his playing career for as long as possible. “I feel good, physically, and I still have the motivation to play at my best level,” he said. “As long as my physique allows me, I will continue because I am an athlete and I am enjoying the game and this team so much. It is such an honor to represent France. I don’t want to set limits.”
Giroud said it was also “a great relief” to get the goalscoring record so that he can now simply focus on the team.
“We can go on, forget about it, because so many people were talking about it,” she said. “Now it’s done, it’s good because the most important thing is to score more goals to help the team reach our goal.”
France captain Hugo Lloris said Giroud has become a leader and role model for the next generation of French players.
“We have many young players in the squad and he is an example,” said Lloris. “In your career you have ups and downs, but the most important thing is to stay consistent and strong in your mind at the important moments and never give up. This is something Olivier has done throughout his career and it has been rewarded. But I know Olivier and he certainly doesn’t want to stay at this number. He wants to add a few more.
France’s squad for the 2022 World Cup
France announced their 26-man squad on 9 November and named five Premier League regulars: William Saliba, who has contributed to Arsenal’s superb form this season, Raphael Varane, Alphonse Areola, Ibrahima Konate and captain Hugo Lloris .
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (Milan), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St-Germain), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamencano ( Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kinglsey Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)
What are France’s matches?
France will face England in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Qatar. The match will be played at Al Bayt Stadium Saturday 10 December, start at 19:00 (GMT).
What is France’s record at the World Cup?
France are the holders, having beaten Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 final at the end of a nearly flawless run, which included victories over Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium.
This was their second World Cup victory after a Zinedine Zidane-inspired triumph when he scored twice in a 3-0 win against Brazil in the 1998 final.
However, it was probably the great midfielder’s header on Marco Materazzi and subsequent sending off that cost him the 2006 final, which Italy won on penalties.
France boast some of the most talented players in the world and possess a particularly fearsome attack. They should top their group but, while it would be unwise to rule them out from winning it again, France have a history of imploding on the international stage. Furthermore, no team has won back-to-back world titles since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales
What are the latest odds?
Will Benzema follow up Ballon d’Or with Golden Boot in Qatar? Find the latest top scorer odds for the Frenchman here
France is currently a best price of 5/23 to win the World Cup.