Giroud and Gameiro com­pet­ing to start up front for France

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

De­spite help­ing France reach the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nal, striker Olivier Giroud finds him­self once again fight­ing for his place in the na­tional side. His po­si­tion has come un­der se­ri­ous threat from Kevin Gameiro, and coach Di­dier Deschamps must choose be­tween them to play along­side An­toine Griez­mann in today’s World Cup qual­i­fier against Sweden. Gameiro ap­pears to be the favourite to start, but Giroud’s phys­i­cal­ity and head­ing abil­ity could prove use­ful against a ro­bust Sweden side level with France in Group A. “Olivier and Kevin have dif­fer­ent styles. Olivier is more of a link player, Kevin is more about speed and mak­ing runs,” Deschamps said. “Both are very ef­fec­tive. I can use one at the start and one can come on dur­ing the match, de­pend­ing on the op­po­si­tion.” Giroud scored three goals at Euro 2016, forg­ing a de­cent part­ner­ship with Griez­mann, the com­pe­ti­tion’s top scorer with six. But he has lost his place in the Arse­nal side to Chile striker Alexis Sanchez, while Gameiro is thriv­ing at club level along­side Griez­mann at Atletico Madrid. Al­though Giroud started France’s first match in qual­i­fy­ing for the 2018 World Cup, he missed two clear chances in a 0-0 draw at Be­larus. “He’s not at 100 per­cent, he knows it and I know it,” Deschamps said yes­ter­day. “But I know what Olivier can do, and Kevin, too. All of this plays a part in my think­ing.” It is a fa­mil­iar Giroud. With France, he was of­ten sec­ond choice be­hind Real Madrid striker Karim Ben­zema, and be­fore sit­u­a­tion for fac­ing com­pe­ti­tion from Sanchez at Arse­nal, he was bat­tling Theo Wal­cott for the cen­ter for­ward’s jersey. “That’s the story of my ca­reer: I’ve al­ways had to fight to keep my place,” Giroud said in a re­cent in­ter­view with sports daily L’Equipe. “But I have ex­pe­ri­ence and good matches that speak in my fa­vor.” The 30-year-old Giroud has 21 goals in 57 games for France, while the 29-year-old Gameiro has a more mod­est three in 11. But be­cause Gameiro is play­ing reg­u­larly with Griez­mann in a danger­ous-look­ing part­ner­ship, Giroud fears that gives his team­mate the edge. “I would be ly­ing if I said the opposite,” Giroud said. “But that’s not every­thing. I also showed that I could play well along­side An­toine at the Euro.” The mus­cu­lar striker set up Griez­mann for the win­ning goal in a 2-1 vic­tory over Ire­land that sent France through to the quar­ter­fi­nals at Euro 2016, show­ing great aware­ness to cush­ion a header per­fectly into this path for the nippy for­ward to run onto. The in­ter­na­tional ca­reers of Giroud and Gameiro ap­pear some­what fused. Giroud’s first ap­pear­ance for France saw him come on as a sub­sti­tute, re­plac­ing Gameiro in a 10 win against the United States five years ago. It in­ad­ver­tently be­came a tran­si­tional mo­ment, with Gameiro drifting out of the France team for five years un­til his re­cent re­turn. “I’m happy for Kevin, be­cause he bust a gut to get back,” Giroud said. “But that doesn’t mean you have to start to ques­tion every­thing that went be­fore. I’ve scored 11 goals in my last 15 games with the na­tional team.”

Kevin Gameiro ap­pears favourite to start in today’s game

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.