In defence of Olivier Giroud: Why Karim Benzema was WRONG to compare the World Cup winner to a go-kart as Frenchman continues to prove worth for Chelsea after playing ‘crucial’ role in France glory in 2018
- Karim Benzema called out former France team-mate Olivier Giroud on Instagram
- Real Madrid star likened himself to an F1 car and compared Giroud with a go-kart
- Chelsea forward Giroud has proven himself as the perfect foil in France’s attack
- Giroud took Benzema’s place at 2018 World Cup where France were victorious
Karim Benzema slated his compatriot Olivier Giroud by comparing him to a ‘go-kart’ earlier this week.
But the Chelsea man played a vital role in France’s World Cup victory as Benzema could only watch on from afar.
Benzema took a swipe at Giroud as the ‘go-kart’ to his ‘Formula One’ to describe what he believes is the difference in quality between them, despite being replaced him in the French team.
Karim Benzema slated his compatriot Olivier Giroud by comparing him to a ‘go-kart’ this week
Benzema derided Giroud in an Instagram live video with actor Tomas N’Gijol
‘You don’t confuse Formula One with go-karting. And I’m being kind. Next… and I know I’m F1,’ he said in an Instagram Live video this week.
While both Giroud and Benzema have represented their country, Benzema was exiled from the team in 2015, largely owing to his role in the sex-tape scandal that saw his one-time France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena blackmailed.
Giroud was the one to replace him and although he may be the forward who went 546 minutes without a goal in Russia, he deserves to savour his World Cup victory as much as any of his team-mates.
Les Bleus were reliant on him to draw defenders, press opponents and provide through balls with his deft flicks and aerial dominance for either Antoine Griezmann or Kylian Mbappe to exploit during the showpiece event.
Starting the tournament on the bench, Giroud was brought on after 70 minutes in France’s opening game against Australia.
The scores were level but after just 10 minutes on the pitch his flick-on forced an own goal from Aziz Behich to put Didier Deschamps’s men ahead.
The Chelsea man played a vital role in France’s World Cup victory as Benzema watched on
Giroud, who is well liked by Deschamps, went on to start the rest of France’s games – most often at the expense of Ousmane Dembele.
The forward provided his team with two assists, a 75 per cent long-pass success rate (thanks to his latching onto them) and over 21.5 passes per 90 minutes during their seven games.
Giroud’s defensive work was vitally important to France winning the World Cup and was apparent in every knockout game and during the semi-final and the final itself.
Real Madrid forward Benzema was exiled from the France national team five years ago
His pressing lead was evident in France’s 2-0 victory over Uruguay as he stopped various attacks at the source. The same defensive tenacity was on show against Belgium as he dropped deep, leaving space behind for the pace of Griezmann and Mbappe to counter, and then again against Croatia as he brought Paul Pogba into the game by pressing their centre-backs higher up the pitch.
‘He is a player who is unjustly criticised. Goals, you have to score them. Even though he didn’t at the World Cup, he was crucial too, which is good,’ said Deschamps.
‘He is closing in, the years are going by, on the end. But he is still here. He still has the desire and this freshness. He needs to keep that.’
Giroud’s scoring record for France is impressive though. He has scored 39 goals from 93 internationals, making him third on France’s all-time list, behind Michel Platini and Thierry Henry. Benzema has 27 goals for France.
Benzema was wrong to compare Giroud to a go-kart as he continues to prove his worth
GIROUD’S INTERNATIONAL STATS
BENZEMA’S INTERNATIONAL STATS
Frank Lampard identified the Frenchman’s value both physically and mentally by saying: ‘He has always been engaged even when he has not been playing, he has been engaged. I said it during the window; he has been absolutely fantastic from start to now.
‘That is why he can put in those performances when he comes in. Personality on the pitch, personality in the dressing room, quality to finish, selfless in his ways. He’s our player now. In January it might have changed, it didn’t, and I’m happy with that and we move on.
‘He is strong; he has been around, won the World Cup, very good with the younger players around him, wants to train at a high level every day, understands his game, his attributes and how important he can be.’
The France international, who has spent the majority of the season waiting in the wings, had become an integral player for Lampard’s side in the absence of the injured Tammy Abraham before football was postponed.
France boss Didier Deschamps said Giroud played a ‘crucial’ role in 2018 World Cup success
The 33-year-old was close to leaving Stamford Bridge in January to guarantee more game time and increase his chances of making France’s Euro 2020 squad.
Since Abraham’s injury Giroud has showcased the underrated quality he has always possessed by scoring goals like the close-range finish from Willian’s cross in Chelsea’s 4-0 victory over Everton.
His performances and attitude have impressed the Blues boss, who will now have a selection dilemma on his hands once Abraham is fit and the Premier League starts up again.
Benzema has also been in form despite being left out of France’s national team.
Having not added to his 81 international caps since 2015, the French press are calling for Benzema to be given another chance, having outscored Griezmann and Giroud so far this season.
Zinedine Zidane believes it is time for Benzema to be brought back into the international fold
Zinedine Zidane agreed, saying he believed it was time for him to be brought back from international exile.
While Zidane’s words have helped to reopen the debate in France and sway public in his favour, France boss Deschamps doesn’t appear to be in agreement.
Benzema may feel he can offer more potency than Giroud, and although statistics would suggest that, comparing his compatriot to a go-kart is doing the World Cup winner a disservice.
Even at this stage of his career, Giroud still has a part to play and has proven his worth time and time again.
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