Are you more Olivier Giroud or Karim Benzema? Always on the lookout for sensitive issues in the field of sport, the Odoxa polling institute (in partnership with RTL) surveyed the French at the end of last week on their vision of the two leading attackers competing for the position of center forward. The 1,005 people in the sample representing 67 million French breeders are slightly in favor of Olivier Giroud. The poll was carried out in the wake of France Bulgaria, we can think that the two goals of the Chelsea striker, who had replaced Karim Benzema out of injury, have tipped the scales.
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Note that the difference is widening, depending on whether the people questioned are more or less old or declare themselves more or less football fans. Basically, young connoisseurs vote Benzema at 51%, the oldest less interested in the game, voting Giroud at 59%. We will therefore put President Macron, a football fan and quite young, in the camp of the “Benzemists”. What he confirmed during his visit to the Blues last Thursday at Clairefontaine, the national football center, by weaving wreaths in the Madrilenian.
A question of philosophy
Beyond this debate related to the personality and the course of one and the other, the coach Didier Deschamps is clearly in front of a genuine question on the philosophy of the game. He knew it well by summoning Karim Benzema for this Euro after five years of quarantine: Benzema and Giroud do not play the same football. The first is technical, fast and able to play Spanish football with small touches behind the backs of the defenders. The second is tall, strong in the head, used to large transversals and evolves in the English style, back to goal just in front of the defensive curtain.
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If Olivier Giroud has obviously proven himself (he is now the second scorer in the history of the Blues, with 46 goals, five lengths from Thierry Henry), Didier Deschamps has chosen to recall a player without doubt more complementary with the other two points of the attack triangle. Particularly Kylian Mbappé, fond of long deep passes, an area in which Karim Benzema, long chief supplier to Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid, excels. Passeur, Karim Benzema is also a great scorer, the best French in history in the Champions League, in the white jersey of Real Madrid.
Difference in club record, even if Giroud’s European Cup course is honorable with a contract that has just been extended to Chelsea. But above all a difference in style. Olivier Giroud runs alone forward, waiting for the offering of a bullet that does not always come, which he awkwardly blamed on Kylian Mbappé at the end of France-Bulgaria, causing a beginning of controversy. Conversely, Benzema varies the trajectories and movements in the opposing defense, distilling long balls for one (Mbappé) or short for the other (Griezmann), who loves acrobatic passes in the feet in the middle of the race.
One is world champion, the other is not
We will not forget that France has become European vice-champion and world champion in the first diagram, with Giroud. But Didier Deschamps seems to have chosen. Even if the Chelsea striker can easily win among the big German players, he should align the entry Madrilenian, even if it means facing an obvious fact: in two games, Karim Benzema has not scored. It is therefore already outside the nails of the statistics generally expected of a scorer: around 0.5 goal per game, or one goal every two games at least.
The Madrileño still has not found the opening, but he participated or triggered a mountain of chances, which were not always at the end. With Benzema, France played well, whether against Wales or Bulgaria, but didn’t score that much. With Giroud, from the 41e minute, the team started to thwart, but scored twice, taking advantage especially of the Bulgarian deconcentration. The rest of the analysis belongs to Didier Deschamps, who will probably only have cast a distracted look at the Odoxa survey.
Germany, France’s best enemy
Contrary to popular belief, France largely leads the score against Germany. The two teams have met 31 times in history, with France winning fourteen times, Germany nine, with both teams drawing eight times.
The appearance of Germanic superiority is based on the period of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when the Mannschaft was effectively three cubits above. She left two stinging memories at the Blues of Platini: the semi-final of the World Cup in Seville (1982) and that of the Mexican World Cup, four years later.
In recent times, the Blues have been undefeated since the quarter-final lost at the Brazilian World Cup in 2014, notably with a victory in the semi-final at Euro 2016.