Olivier Giroud: Scorer from the back row

Adrien Rabiot crossed in from the left, Ousmane Dembele headed the ball down the middle and then there was Olivier Giroud – the golden opportunity to clinch the World Cup quarter-final against England. The French striker grabbed the ball directly, in a central position, less than ten meters from the goal, but it was saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The chance was lost and it was still 1-1 in the 77th minute. France had to keep shaking, but Giroud remained confident. The man who made the difference in what was arguably the best match so far at the World Cup in Qatar between France and England.

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One minute after the missed opportunity, the ball returned to the middle, this time after Antoine Griezmann crossed in from the left. Guarded by three Englishmen, Giroud still had a header, Harry Maguire deflected, this time Pickford had no chance. The gate means that 2-1 final scoreEnter the 2018 World Champion Semi-finals against Morocco Wednesday (8 pm, ZDF And the purple tv). It was a fortunate victory for the French, but in the end it was the result that mattered, as Giroud knows well: “In matches like this, details matter”. The critical detail was the same.

Benzema Giroud’s injury lifted him to the starting line-up

When France’s prospects for hosting a second consecutive World Cup are discussed, the focus is on Kylian Mbappe, the 23-year-old force of nature who scored five goals at the tournament in Qatar. But he is not the only professional in the French national team who can win matches. Giroud, 36, an employee of Milan, could do the same. Write a special story on the World Cup. In fact, it was only intended for a supporting role. World class footballer Karim Benzema should shine at the front, along with Mbappe and Dembele. Then Benzema injured his left thigh, and Giroud entered the team – and made history. With his goal in the Round of 16 3-1 against Poland, his 53rd with ‘Les Bleus’, he overtook Thierry Henry as the Frenchman’s record goalscorer.

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The Giro was there in 2018, in a World Cup triumph in Russia. At that time he remained uninjured, which put him under pressure to justify himself. His contribution to the success was nonetheless evident. Set up goals, tear up spaces for Mbappe and Griezmann, and let the others shine. He shone in Qatar, scoring twice in the 4-1 start against Australia and once in the knockout rounds against Poland and England. With his goals, he won the recognition he had been denied for so long. “The French don’t like him, but now everyone adores him, even those who criticized him – and I see some of them in the hall,” coach Didier Deschamps recently told local reporters.

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It’s strange: Giroud is one of the longest-serving strikers in French football and recently took the record as the best scorer in the history of the national team, but the former Arsenal and Chelsea player is only now properly recognized. And he can add to his popularity in the final week of the World Cup if he shoots France to successfully defend their title. Conditions are good. Anyway, Giroud himself said after the victory over England: “Our mentality reminds me of 2018.”

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