Olivier Giroud scored his team-leading sixth Champions League goal of the season last night, which means that he’s now scored six of our last seven goals in the competition. The man for the big occasion — in fact, only Didier Drogba (36) and Frank Lampard (25) have more European goals in club history than Giroud’s 18. (Fernando Torres is next on the list with 17. The majority of his goals, just like Giroud’s had come in the Europa League.)
And of course it wasn’t just any old run of the mill goal. It was yet another spectacular strike in a career already chock-full of highlight-reel-worthy efforts as the 34-year-old executed an acrobatic, picturesque, simply perfect bicycle kick. Initially ruled offside, VAR proved its usefulness* for once by intervening and awarding the goal: belated replays on the match broadcast feed eventually also showed that it was in fact Atlético defender Mario Hermoso who played the ball to Giroud.
(*now if only we could get VAR or UEFA to overturn Mason Mount’s shocking harsh and hilariously incorrect yellow card that will cause him to miss the second leg...)
When Giroud shows his grandkids a compilation of his best goals they're going to think he was better than Pele— Matt Spiro (@mattspiro) October 19, 2017
It was the one moment of pure quality that broke Atléti’s resistance, and Giroud was obviously chuffed with it, though he was even more happy about Chelsea’s overall performance.
“We came here with strong intentions to win the game, play our game and we know how we could give them trouble offensively. We have been strong at the back in the defensive shape and very pleased with the win, it was a deserved win tonight.
“We know the importance of the away goal in European cups so that is why I was pleased to help the team win the game, we managed it well and we were confident but faced a great team and I think we were very committed and knew their main strengths. We dealt with it but we have to stay focussed and complete the job.
“Not over confident, we were confident in our qualities in the game.
“I did not know what to think about the goal, I just focussed on hitting the overhead kick and was pleased to see it go in the back of the net, I had no clue about being offside, Mason Mount said he did not touch the ball. Good for the team, good for me.”
-Olivier Giroud; soure: BT Sport via BBC
Giroud scored in his previous appearance as well, against Newcastle, and is proving that even at age 34, he’s still not just a dressing room-leader, but also a key contributor on the pitch as well.
Tuchel has praised Oli for qualities of the former kind already; last night the praise was all about the latter kind.
“If you see him on a daily basis, you cannot be surprised. He is totally fit, his body is in shape and his physicality is on top level.
“Mentally I have really the feeling he enjoys every day being a professional soccer player on this level and this is the level he needs to be. He trains like a 20-year-old, like a 24-year-old. He is a guy who has a good mixture of seriousness and joy in training. He is always positive and it is a big factor for the group.
“He starts, when he comes from the bench, he has all these qualities and it is good like this.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
With plenty of big games coming up, across three competitions, we’re going to need all the big game players to step up, and then some.