Benzema comparisons have made me stronger, says Giroud

Karim Benzema is no longer a viable rival to Olivier Giroud in the France squad but the Chelsea man does not mind constant comparisons.

Published : May 27, 2018 00:02 IST

Olivier Giroud feels having his deeds in a France shirt constantly measured up against Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has made him a better player.

Benzema and Giroud were rivals for the starting number-nine berth for Les Bleus until the former was implicated in an alleged extortion plot targeting international colleague Matthieu Valbuena.

The France Football Federation did not consider Benzema for selection at Euro 2016 and, despite France's Court of Cassation ruling in his favour last July, he has still not re-entered Didier Deschamps' plans.

That has not stopped debate among the French media and fans over whether Giroud represents a superior option in attack, but the Chelsea targetman has no problem with the duo's association.

"Everything is fine but, for sure, this story has followed me all my career long," he told a news conference. "Somehow it's my destiny, it's like that. I use that to become stronger.

"I have fed off that to grow up as a man and a player. If today I am mentally strong it's maybe because I have known all these adventures.

"My job is just to help the team to reach its goal. I hope I can score a lot of goals in the future for that. I would enjoy it, for sure."

Deschamps' talent-stacked squad have friendlies against Republic of Ireland, Italy and the United States to come before lining up in Group C at Russia 2018 alongside Australia, Denmark and Peru.

France have previous in terms of fractious team relations at major tournaments but Giroud insists spirits are high.

"Of course we are in a World Cup mood, we are talking about it, even if we should not play the games [in our heads] before it's time to do so," he explained.

"Yesterday morning we did a running race, a very difficult one. We have been together very strongly with a real solidarity.

"I saw a player helping another one to stay with the group. It's a good illustration of what this group is about – solidarity.

"We like to be together. We want to win together. I think that there is really something in this team and let's try to keep this spirit until the end."

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