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Benzema was so wrong over Giroud 'go-kart' jibe

08:00 BST 03/04/2020
Olivier Giroud Karim Benzema 2019-20
The Real Madrid striker described himself as a Formula One car - but it's the Chelsea frontman who has a World Cup winners' medal to his name

Olivier Giroud might not be a Formula One car, but the France international is certainly no go-kart - despite what Karim Benzema had to say earlier this week.

Quite what Benzema was thinking when he made those remarks during his Instagram Live video only he will know. It would be insulting to any top level player, let alone a World Cup winner who has collected bucketloads of silverware during his career. For all Benzema has achieved during his glittering career with Real Madrid, that is one thing he doesn’t have on his CV.

There is no doubting the 32-year-old’s quality. On the pitch Benzema is a class act; you don’t score 218 goals for Real Madrid and stay at the Bernabeu for 11 years if you are not a quality player.

But football is not just about natural talent. It’s about hard work, dedication, and playing for your team-mates. Giroud does all that and more and that’s why he has always been appreciated by his colleagues wherever he has played.

“I love Olivier Giroud, he's a good player and he helped us win the World Cup. And that's important in life,” were the words of Antoine Griezmann when asked about his international strike partner.

And Griezmann should love Giroud because a lot of the success he has had while wearing the France shirt - including at the 2018 World Cup - has been down to the work the Chelsea forward has put in alongside him.

In Benzema’s defence, that is at least something he admitted when asked to explain his ‘go-kart’ comment.

“Griezmann and [Kylian] Mbappe get seen more while he rolls his sleeves up and does the dirty work,” said Benzema. “But does everyone like his game? I don’t know.”

Well, Giroud’s team-mates - past and present - certainly like his game. Just ask Aaron Ramsey, who has the Frenchman to thank for his two FA Cup-winning goals for Arsenal.

It may have been Ramsey who got the glory at Wembley in 2014 and 2017, but it was Giroud’s quality and quick thinking that set him up for the strikes that saw off Hull City and Chelsea.

“He’s a fantastic player with many qualities,” said Ramsey to the Arsenal website on the occasion of Giroud's 100th Gunners goal. “I think he’s great.

“He can score a lot of goals, he’s very good technically and his link-up play is very good.

“I like to play off him. He has a good understanding of the runs that I make and I try to play off him. We’ve had a few goals where we’ve combined well together.”

That combination play Ramsey talks about was so key to Arsenal while Giroud was at the club. When you think of some of their best goals in the last 10 years, Giroud was often at the heart of them.

The Jack Wilshere goal against Norwich and Tomas Rosicky’s against Sunderland are prime examples. Both sensational team goals - two goals that perfectly encapsulated ‘Wenger Ball’ - and two goals that would not have been possible without Giroud’s link-up play and deft touch.

Giroud is 33 now and still has plenty to offer at the top level, despite finding himself bizarrely marginalised by Frank Lampard at Chelsea earlier this season. But when he does eventually hang up his boots he will be able to look back on a stellar career.

In France he finished as the top scorer in Ligue 1 as he fired Montpellier to the club’s first-ever league title in 2012. He then got his £12 million move to Arsenal and went on to score 105 goals for the Gunners, a number that places him 18th on the all-time top-scorer list.

He won three FA Cups during his time in north London, scoring in one final and setting up the winning goal in the other two. He also won the Puskas Award for his sensational scorpion kick against Crystal Palace in 2017.

Giroud moved to Chelsea in January 2018 and won the FA Cup again a few months later, scoring in the semi-final success against Southampton.

Then in his first full season at Stamford Bridge he scored 11 goals during Chelsea’s successful Europa League campaign, more than any other player in the competition, including the all-important first goal in the final against his former club.

So it's clear to see that Giroud’s quality speaks for itself, as does his CV. And it’s not just at club level that he has excelled.

For France he has scored 39 goals in 97 caps. He is his country’s third all-time record goalscorer and just 12 behind current chart-topper Thierry Henry. He averages 0.4 goals per game at international level, a strike rate that is just a fraction behind that of Henry (0.41).

For context, prior to being banished from the national team by Didier Deschamps, Benzema had scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for France, with a strike rate of 0.33.

So Giroud’s record stacks up with the very best. The numbers and his medal collection prove that.

A Formula One car? Perhaps not. But the Frenchman has shown he can still keep pace with the best of them.