Kylian Mbappe has praised the “freedom” given to him by former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud – who once again shone for France in place of Karim Benzema.
AC Milan striker Giroud became France’s oldest goalscorer at 35 years and 357 days with a header in a 2-0 win over Austria in the Nations League.
The goal also ended a worrying four-game winless streak for the Blues and took two goals from Giroud on Thierry Henry’s record 51 goals as the country’s top scorer.
During that winless run, Giroud, a 2018 World Cup winner with France, had given way to Ballon d’Or favorite Benzema, with the Real Madrid striker in extraordinary form at club level.
Benzema staged one of the greatest campaigns in Champions League history with 15 goals for Real in 2021/22, securing a number of crucial late winners in a stunning race to the final.
The 34-year-old Lyon-born striker has hit his peak in recent years in Spain, earning him a return to the national team in 2021 after a six-year exile due to off-field issues .
After missing Euro 2016 and France’s victorious 2018 World Cup campaign, Benzema was part of the squad that was knocked out of Euro 2020 in the Round of 16, despite scoring four goals.
Back alongside Giroud, Paris Saint-Germain striker Mbappe scored the other goal in the 2-0 win and granted the former Premier League player Virtues after the game.
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“I have a lot more freedom here,” he said. “The coach knows that there is a number nine like Olivier who occupies the defense.
“Me, I can walk around, go into space, ask for balloons… In Paris, it’s not just that, it’s different, they ask me to do the pivot. I’m very happy with today’s game.
Asked about his impressive chemistry with Giroud, Mbappe said. “Yes it’s great. There were some with Antoine [Griezmann] too.
“He was higher up in the peloton, we were able to watch without being cut off from the rest of the team.
“We are very happy, now we have to confirm. There is Karim who will also come back, we will see how it goes.
“Olivier Giroud did us a favor again today and I hope he does it on Sunday as well.”
Since Giroud’s debut for France in 2012, the team has posted a 65.8% win rate with him, which drops to 57.1% without him.
Conversely, the Blues have a 54.5% win rate with Benzema over the same period, which rises to 70.2% without him.
The Mbappe-Giroud-Griezmann trident was also won, which saw France victorious at the last World Cup, and Didier Deschamps may have to return to it, potentially leaving Benzema on the bench, although the Madridista is likely to win the Ballon d’Or before. -tournament in October.
It previously appeared that Deschamps left Giroud but that theory was dismissed by the manager after their win.
“I never said I was going to deprive myself of him,” said Deschamps. “You draw conclusions.
“He scored, good for him. He is in excellent spirits.
“He was involved in a lot of offensive plays and moves. As he almost always does. He found himself in very, very, very difficult situations in recent years, with little or no playing time, and every time he was called up to the France team, he performed. It’s very good for the France team.
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