In pictures: France v Poland
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Mauricio Pochettino has explained he always ‘hated’ Olivier Giroud in the past due to his ability in front of goal. The 50-year-old spent five years in charge of Tottenham with the Frenchman a constant thorn in his side during his spells for London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.
Giroud has been in fantastic form during the World Cup, scoring three times for France with his strike in the round-of-16 clash against Poland breaking Thierry Henry’s record for most goals scored for the national team. He also had an excellent overhead kick ruled out after referee Jesus Valenzuela blew up for a head injury while he was in full flight.
To many, Giroud has failed to gain the praise he deserves over the course of his career given his unflashy style of play. However, this is not the case for Pochettino who gave him a huge back-handed compliment by saying he ‘hated’ coming up against him as a manager.
“Always I hate Giroud in the past because of Arsenal and Chelsea,” he told BBC as he analysed France’s 3-1 win over Poland. “He was a player you face and you know was capable of everything. It’s massive. It’s a player, we as centre-backs hated because he’s a killer, inside the box it’s difficult because he’s big, clever – so smart.”
Giroud showed all his class in the comfortable victory for the French as they set-up a quarter-final against the winners of the day’s later match between England and Senegal. The striker’s goal opened the scoring before two excellent strikes from Kylian Mbappe wrapped up the match. A Robert Lewandowski penalty gave Poland a consolation.
The 36-year-old was expected to play something of a bit part role ahead of the tournament with Real Madrid star Karim Benzema expected to be the first choice No 9. However, the Ballon d’Or winner injured his thigh on the eve of Les Blues’ opening match against Australia propelling Giroud back into the starting line up.
France boss Didier Deschamps resisted the urge to call up anyone to replace the 34-year-old, insisting he was happy with the options he had at his disposal.
“It’s not something that’s occupying my mind,” he said. “I don’t know who’s saying what and how. You know the situation and the time that he needs to recover.
“I spoke with Benzema after he left us, but I don’t know where you’re going with your question. I have 24 players here and I’m thinking about them. I will let you speak, debate, and imagine, but I’m not going to comment on things that don’t concern our daily business.”
Giroud is now in joint-second place in the World Cup Golden Boot race with three goals in the tournament, two behind leader and compatriot Mbappe.
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