Football’s on break, so it’s time for ... well, football. Of the international variety. Still counts, they tell me, so here we go.
First up, we’ve got the OG, Olivier Giroud, who started at center forward in France’s 7-1 friendly pasting of COVID-hit understrength Ukraine (managed by former Chelsea striker Andrei Shevchenko). It was the 34-year-old’s 100th appearance for Les Bleus, making him the 8th player in history to reach that mark — and incidentally, the third Chelsea player to reach the century after Marcel Desailly and current France head coach Didier Deschamps.
But as impressive as that may be, the mark that Giroud has his sights set on is Thierry Henry’s goals record for the national team. Giroud celebrated his 100th appearance with a brace (scoring on a rebound as well after picking out the top corner rather magnificently), which put him one ahead of Michel Platini’s 41 goals and into second place on the all-time list. Giroud would need nine (9) more to reach Henry’s record of 51 — if he can keep starting for France, that’s surely in his reach.
“I feel a lot of pride, it’s a great honour for me and I’m happy it happened for my 100th cap. I’m happy I did it on front of Shevchenko, he was one of my favourite players, if not my favourite player when I was a teenager.
“There’s no limit. You have to set yourself goals. Let’s see [about Henry’s record] when I reach 46, 47 goals.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Reuters
(Giroud incidentally has almost the same scoring average for France as Henry: 42 in 100 vs. 51 in 123.)
After the match in which N’Golo Kante thankfully did not feature, Dayot Upamecano was diagnosed with some sort of stomach issue, and France have added Kurt Zouma as cover for the rest of the international break. Congrats, Big Kurt!
FFF making a clarification: Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig) will stay with the squad, Kurt Zouma (Chelsea), will still join up tomorrow, alongside Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid) & Adrien Rabiot (Juventus).— Get French Football News (@GFFN) October 7, 2020
Speaking of joining up, Timo Werner’s COVID-19 test has come back negative, which means that he will join up with the Germany squad after all. The Chelsea striker was exhibiting “flu-like” symptoms at the start of the week, which has delayed his participation and ruled him out of Wednesday’s friendly against Turkey.
Both Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger played in that 3-3 draw in Cologne. Germany took the lead three times, but the visitors battled back each and every time, including a third equalizer in the 94th minute.
On the plus side, Havertz set up both of Germany’s first two goals, with some lovely passes. Too smooth.
Elsewhere, Mateo Kovacic played the first hour in Croatia’s 2-1 win over Switzerland (Mario Pasalic with one of the goals), Kepa Arrizabalaga kept goal and a clean sheet as Spain and Portugal battled to a scoreless draw, while Andreas Christensen and Emerson both made substitute appearances for Denmark and Italy, respectively. Those two teams won by a combined 10-0 scoreline against the Faroe Islands and Moldova in fixtures that quite clearly just had to be played in the middle of a pandemic, right, UEFA? (Oh, and Jorginho did not feature for Italy, and watched the 6-0 win from his comfy seat.)
Oh, and Callum Hudson-Odoi played the quarter of an hour for England U21 who drew quite hilariously with Andorra U21, 3-3. Andorra!