Olivier Giroud

July 2018. France had beaten Belgium in the semifinals. Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, watching the French game plan unfold right in front of his eyes was furious. It was a frustrating match. France did not play at all, they defended with 11 players within 40 meters of their goal. Curious, is it not? Even the most defensive of teams have that one man upfront who would not come back from his position of royalty and wait for the opportunities. This is a team which had the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe and if they had wished so, Lacazette and Benzema could have joined the part as well (though they weren’t eventually invited).

Deschamps chose to go with a “backup striker” of Arsenal’s backup striker (Lacazette), who had move to Chelsea for regular game-time, aka Olivier Giroud. He scored no goal in the tournament even after playing as France’s first choice front man, yet France won the tournament and surprise surprise, was hailed as one of the most important players in the French team.

When you play a game of football, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on an average … So, the most important thing is: What do you do during those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or just an average star, who fades into the limelight with time.

Giroud has many limitations – he is painfully slow, average at dribbling, par at finding eye-
catching passes to team-mates. Despite all these problems, he can do the certain simple and complicated things easily, like holding on to the ball with his back facing towards the goal or with two defenders on his tail. He can also draw the defenders away from more capable team-mates with clever runs that can lead to goals for them, while he does most of the hard-work. Yes, contrary to popular belief, he is a good finisher too. Or at least, now he seems better than what he was back at the Emirates.

Image result for giroud europa league title

Being the Europa League’s top scorer is not as tough as doing the same for some other competitions, but it is not exactly “child’s play” either. Quite fittingly, he delivered the complete package in the final against his old club and scored the opening goal of the game.

The all-important first goal that he managed, with a brilliant and brave header and the artistic assist to Hazard were just icing on the cake. The real Giroud is the one who continued helping his midfield in defending throughout the match or winning the ball from those long punts to bypass the midfield press and give the attack a “Launchpad”.

Stat padding is good but sometimes, all you need in a good team is a bit of Girouding, knowing very well that it would be underappreciated. In the end, result beats appreciation. The best part is that players like Giroud smile at you with the trophy and it just reminds me of that scene from The Dark Knight rises right at the end. What a happy ending!!