When France won the last World Cup, in 2018, they did so without their starting center forward, Olivier Giroud taking a single shot on target, let alone score a goal. It was one of the more instructive examples of how football is a team game, and goals don’t necessarily define an individual performance or determine your worth to the team, even if you’re a striker.
If France — no Kanté, no Pogba, no Benzema, no problem — defend their World Cup crown, they will also prove that there are more ways than one to win a game. Certainly no lack of goals for Giroud this year, as the former Chelsea man scored his third of the tournament in today’s 3-1 Round of 16 win over Poland. He’s now tied for the tournament lead (well, was briefly), with six others. And it was his 52nd international goal, moving him one ahead of Thierry Henry for the all-time France mark. Always happy for Oli G!
Giroud could’ve opened the scoring a bit earlier, even, but he was unable to convert a cross from Ousmane Dembélé at the far post. Probably was too easy. Instead, he took a through ball from Kylian Mbappé and guided it past Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, who had another busy day. Giroud then saw an even more acrobatic effort, an overhead kick, chalked off for a supposed foul by a teammate as the referee made several contentious decisions that kept the game close.
Still, Les Bleus saw out the game without too much fuss, keeping Robert Lewandowski rather quiet (before a last-second penalty consolation) and getting a couple more through Mbappé himself (his fourth and fifth to lead all players, and also set a new record with his 8th and 9th World Cup goals, passing Pelé for most ever before the age of 24), and thus set up a date with the winners of England versus Senegal in the quarterfinals. Spicy either way!