Tiktukno: summary of today's events in sports, 12.13 (Sport1)
Look at the list of the top 8 scorers of the French team of all time, and you will see that 7 of them played in the current millennium - the only one who belongs to a slightly older history is Michel Platini.
This is mainly due to the fact that the number of international games in the modern era is much higher compared to the past.
It can be assumed with due caution that Joost Fontaine would have put most of his "competitors" in his small pocket if he had not played only 21 times in the team's uniform - and scored 30 goals in them.
Also take the following figure - Zinedine Zidane scored 31 goals in 108 appearances, therefore surpassing by one goal not only Fontaine, but also Jean-Pierre Papin who starred only 54 times in the blue shirt - exactly half of Zizou's record.
These rankings can be misleading, then, but no one doubts that this French list includes real superstars.
Here are places 2 to 10 - Thierry Henry, Antoine Griezmann, Platini, Karim Benzema, David Trezague, Kylian Mbappe, Zidane, Fontaine, Papen.
All of them are legends, all of them are written in golden letters in the history books.
All of them, except for the first place, about which there are always mistakes and asterisks.
Is Olivier Giroud really a superstar?
A sharp debate is expected on this issue, with many opponents of this definition.
Even Benzema himself claimed just two years ago: "You don't compare Formula 1 to karting, and I know I'm Formula 1."
Besides, how is it possible for a central striker to win the World Cup without scoring a single goal?
This puzzling record of Giroud at the 2018 World Cup led to many jokes about him.
Some even compared him to Stefan Givares, who played as number 9 in the team at the home World Cup in 1998, received the gold medal, but by and large did not do much beyond that.
Givares was simply somehow in the right squad at the right time - starting an international career in 1997 and ending it in 1999 with a single goal in 14 appearances.
Such a lovable curiosity - perhaps the most mediocre player ever to win the World Cup as a squad player.
So Giroud had to deal with the comparisons to him, and sometimes also with whistles aimed at him instead of his coach.
Tremendous mental strength.
Olivier Giroud (Photo: GettyImages, Robert Cianflone)
Before Euro 2016, when Didier Deschamps made a final decision to expel Benzema in the context of the tape and extortion affair of Mathieu Valboena, the home crowd in Nantes responded with scathing boos in a pre-tournament friendly.
The fans did not trust the striker, whom even Arsenal fans demanded to be replaced by a brighter star, and wanted to make their voice heard.
Giroud heard - and kept a masterly composure.
He simply intended to prove them wrong on the field, and tried not to take it to heart.
He is endowed with a rare mental fortitude, a very strong self-belief that helps him overcome all obstacles.
He is very used to being underestimated - how can it be otherwise if at the age of 20 he is considered a negligible and unnecessary player at the end of Grenoble's bench in the second division?
How could it be otherwise when the first minimal recognition of his skills came at the age of 23, when he suddenly started scoring with high frequency in Tour uniform - a modest club even compared to Grenoble, which was stuck in the middle of the table in the second division?
Montpellier - a team owned by a man who made his fortune collecting garbage, and this is a separate joke - bet on him in 2010, and he led them to an unimaginable championship at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain two years later.
During that magical season, he was even honored to receive his first call-up to the national team, at the age of 25. How could one have thought then that he would grow into the most prolific scorer in French history?
And the thing is that this record was not supposed to be set.
Any other player would have retired in his situation after the European Championship last summer.
Deschamps chose to bring Benzema back, and Giroud became the youngest player to participate in Euro 2020 only twice as a substitute for the final minutes.
He understood very well in advance that this would be the case when Real's superstar returned from the front door - there was no other alternative.
The following autumn, Giroud was not invited at all, and the hint was clear - his time had passed.
He was already 35 years old, and he had done his part.
He went to two World Cups and three European Championships, he has a world champion's gold medal... What else can you strive for?
Is there any point in waiting for a return to the squad if all that awaits him there is a cool spot on the bench?
Does it make sense at all?
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Unbalanced the attack.
Karim Benzema (Photo: Reuters)
As far as Giroud was concerned, there was logic.
In an interview held a year ago, he stated: "Benzema caused an imbalance in our attacking game. It's not his fault, but it was clear as day. We lost our strength as a team, and it hurt us."
This was his analysis of elimination in the round of 16 of Euro 2020 - even though Benzema scored 4 goals in it, and even though the team that won the Nations League in 2021 with the sharp trio of Griezmann-Mbappe-Benzema.
This trio was even supposed to lead Deschamps' attack in the World Cup in Qatar, and no one raised any doubts about that - certainly not about the hero of Real who experienced the best season of his career, dismantled the defenses to pieces on the way to winning the Champions League and just got his hands on the Ballon d'Or.
Benzema was set to be one of the most central figures in this World Cup, and dreamed of leading France to victory after missing out so horribly in the celebration in Russia.
Still, Giroud continued.
And even in his club career, he insisted on continuing to excel.
After nine years in London, at the end of a term as an effective and much-loved rotation player at Chelsea, he preferred to try a completely new adventure in another big league, signed with Milan in the summer of 2021 - and was the winner who scored the most critical goals on the way to the sensational championship win already in his first season at San Siro.
With winning goals against Lazio and Napoli, and especially thanks to the lightning duo that brought about a change in the derby against Inter and established the red-blacks as real candidates for the crown, he bought his place in the hearts of the fans, who don't really know the disdain shown towards him by so many in the Arsenal stands.
He also started this season on the right foot in Italy, once again defeated Inter in the derby with a goal and an assist, celebrated 4 conquests in the Champions League, and left Deschamps no choice but to take him to the World Cup - even if it was clear that his role in Qatar would be extremely limited, much like in the last Euro.
The coach did this because he knew that no ego problems were expected.
There is no team player more than Giroud, nor is there a person more determined than him to take advantage of every minute he gets.
"I'm excited for this World Cup as if it's my first tournament, and I'm demanding the maximum from myself as if I were a young player. I won't give up until my body forces me to stop, and that's not the case at the moment. I feel great and I'm in good shape. Things are working out for me. I'm going to be a part From the squad, I will be a mentor to the young players, and I will prepare for every game as if I am going to start in the lineup. If the coach needs me, I will be there for him," said the striker.
Quickly bought the hearts of Milan fans too.
Olivier Giroud (Photo: GettyImages, TIZIANA FABI)
Then it turned out that he would really be in the lineup.
Benzema's injury right before the start of the tournament set the wheel straight for 2018.
Giroud is again on the edge, Griezmann is again in a free role behind a classic central striker as he loves so much, and Ambaba is again the undisputed star - without the man who kicked him out of the Champions League this year and surpassed him in every parameter.
Would France have been better or worse with Benzema instead of Giroud?
There is no telling.
One thing is certain - no one in the country is underestimating the 36-year-old hero who also scores for a change in the World Cup.
And doing it in style.
It already started with a wonderful pair against Australia in the opening game, in which the French fell behind early, but won 1:4.
It continued with the goal that broke through the Polish bunker in the round of 16, and in addition, Giroud was disqualified for a fine goal at the barbershop with a wrong decision by the referee who saw a foul on Wytek Szczesny at the beginning of the move.
And if anyone still had claims that Giroud tends to score only against inferior opponents, on Saturday the warning winning goal against England came in the 78th minute, with such a typical strike in front of everyone.
Virgil van Dijk, who defined Giroud as his toughest opponent, said that he simply always finds a way to break free - no matter how hard they try to keep him.
Jordan Pickford's netminder showed just those abilities, and now Giroud is within touching distance of a second straight World Cup final.
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On the way to another closing of the circle.
Olivier Giroud (Photo: Reuters)
At 36, that's no small feat, and on Sunday Giroud may have the chance to set a new record as the oldest ever scorer in a World Cup final.
Currently, the achievement belongs to the Swedish Nils Lidholm who scored against Brazil in 1958 when he was 35 years old. This is, of course, the eternal legend of Milan - one of the greatest players of all time.
It would be highly symbolic, then, if Giroud knocked him off the top after more than 64 years while still a Milan star himself.
Along the way, he will be able to further establish his place as France's most prolific scorer - after the goal against England, this balance stands at 53 goals in 118 games.
And in order to reach the finals, the idol who finally gets the recognition he deserves will first have to pass the Moroccan team, whose coach Walid Raghraghi once trained with him when he still belonged to Grenoble sometime in 2008.
Try to think of a more elegant closure.
FIFA World Cup