Olivier Giroud will not have the opportunity to get closer to Thierry Henry’s goal record in the France team (51). The striker with 48 goals in 112 selections does not appear in the list given Thursday, May 19 by Didier Deschamps for the four matches of the Blues as part of the qualifications for the League of Nations (from June 3 to 13).
In March, the AC Milan player took advantage of Karim Benzema’s injury to return to the group and score two goals against South Africa (5-0) and Ivory Coast (2-0). As always in his career, Giroud had refused the obvious: namely that of his supposed downgrading at the end of Euro 2021 in favor of the Benzema-Mbappé duo.
The Madrilenian then touched a calf, Didier Deschamps had nevertheless surprised by recalling the 35-year-old striker. “I know very well what Olivier is capable of,” he said at the time. Score goals and occupy a register of his own in selection, that of the classic center-forward strong in the last meters and precious for his aerial game. “Olivier has a history in the France team, it’s not just anyone”, recalled his captain (and friend) Hugo Lloris.
His qualities, Olivier Giroud has not lost them in two months. How then can the coach’s decision be explained? Asked about this at a press conference, the latter highlighted his desire “to offer the possibility to other offensive players to harden up and have more playing time”. Good news for Wissam Ben Yedder and Christopher Nkunku, in particular.
A status matter?
But revived on the concomitance between the absence of Giroud and the return of Benzema, the boss of the Blues saw red: “You did not listen to me? I already explained myself at the last meeting. “At the time, he had offered a long digression by evoking the special status of Olivier Giroud. “It’s always the great difficulty to have a player who has a status, who has deserved it… If he doesn’t have that same status and he’s still there, it’s hard to live with. Not to say impossible. It’s human, conceded Didier Deschamps at the start of the spring rally. When you’re used to having 100, if you have to settle for 40…”
Translation: During Karim Benzema’s almost six-year sideline, Giroud was an indisputable starter, team and dressing room executive. So it’s not easy to make him a natural (and docile?) replacement when Wissam Ben Yedder can’t find fault with his low playing time.
Before the Euro, Giroud had caused a mini-psychodrama after feeling poorly served during a preparation match against Bulgaria (3-0). Officially, the episode is forgotten by the coach and a Kylian Mbappé targeted by the media outlet. If Didier Deschamps leaves journalists with “hasty interpretations”, this absence suggests that Olivier Giroud will see Qatar and the World Cup (from November 21 to December 18), only in the event of a package from Benzema or Mbappé.
The answer may also be in the feet of the Milanese’s competitors. If Wissam Ben Yedder, Christopher Nkunku or why not Moussa Diaby score points with the coach in the four games against Austria, Denmark and Croatia (twice), Giroud probably has little chance of competing for a third in the world after those of 2014 and 2018. And Thierry Henry can rest easy – for a time – for his record.