The coach of the France team enjoys a multiple palette as a central striker for the Blues before challenging the Netherlands.
A choice of the ultra-rich. On the football planet, many coaches would like to be in Didier Deschamps’ place when you have to choose between Olivier Giroud (37 years old), Randal Kolo Muani (24 years old) and Marcus Thuram (26 years old) for the position of number 9 of the Blues . And again, we spare you the long list of elements waiting behind, a mixture of resigned veterans and hungry young people (Ben Yedder, Lacazette, Wahi, Kalimuendo, Tel…). If he refuses to publicly reveal his hierarchy, aware that the situation in October will not resemble that of June for the Euro, “DD” knows he is lucky and is taking advantage of it. Who will start against the Netherlands Friday, the match that can send the world vice-champions to the European Championship next summer? Elements of response from a trio which has not finished maintaining fierce competition.
Olivier Giroud: grandpa is resisting
His stats in Blues: 125 caps, 54 goals
His club stats this season: 9 matches, 4 goals, 3 ists
“You will see, he will do a Zlatan and you will still hear about him at 40.” These words glimpsed in the columns of Figaro come from Jennifer Giroud, the wife of the top scorer in the history of the France team. Pronounced in a joking tone at the time of the World Cup in Qatar, they are not that far from the truth regarding an element who refuses to plan the end of his career. At 37, Giroud is a starter at AC Milan and meets Deschamps’ expectations in terms of experience and efficiency. His role on and off the pitch is appreciated internally and his “target man” profile makes him a potential starter when the Blues scenario calls for presence and impact in the area against a low block. His propensity to make Mbappé and Griezmann shine in the ping game is also an element that counts in Deschamps’ mind.
Deschamps’ opinion: “It’s his merit to be there. He has the physique that allows him to do so, the healthy lifestyle, the mentality. He has this desire to maintain himself at a high level. He did it last year, now he’s off to a very good start. A few years ago, 35 was the limit. Today, there are quite a few who are close to 40 years old. It’s also the fact of having fewer injuries, everything has improved, the preparation on the medical level. But with that, you need the mind, the state of mind. Olivier has it and it’s a very good thing.”
Randal Kolo Muani: a transfer to digest, a new status to ume
His stats in Blues: 10 caps, 1 goal
His club stats this season: 6 matches, 2 goals and 2 ists
After his delicate summer and a late arrival at Paris SG, Randal Kolo Muani expects a lot from this October gathering. In September, he arrived after treating a small physical problem and after a late transfer which caused him to miss days of training. Result, a match on the bench against Ireland and another failure against Germany (2-1) during the defeat at Dortmund. Scorer last Sunday in Rennes, the former Nantes player brings a totally different option to Deschamps with his volume, his speed and his deep play. The emerging complementarity – which is not always obvious – with Mbappé and Dembélé also pleads in its favor. Remains an important element, he has not scored for the selection in 7 matches and his goal against Morocco in the semi-final of the World Cup. An eternity at the international level.
Deschamps’ opinion : “He has had a phenomenal rise. We were already following him in Nantes, he confirmed in Frankfurt and he met our expectations. With this transfer to PSG, he will be even more exposed. This is the flip side. I repeat to the players each time they are selected, they are more closely watched as soon as they become international. It’s a constant progression at all levels with increasingly high demands.»
Marcus Thuram: Italy to change dimension… and exist in Blue
His stats in Blues: 12 caps, 1 goal
His club stats this season: 10 matches, 3 goals, 7 ists
In the process of settling in and making a name for himself at Inter Milan, Marcus Thuram also intends to be seen in the selection even if the competition is tough. A surprise guest at the Euro and the World Cup, Lilian’s son has established himself at the forefront since his arrival in Italy and continues to enrich his palette. Despite everything, he still has a lot to do and his goal against Ireland during the last rally gives him extra confidence. Deschamps appreciates him but only seems to see him as a fallback solution behind Giroud and Kolo Muani, given his last tenure which dates back to… November 2020. Almost three years. With only one goal in 12 caps, he too must inflate his statistics sheet to claim a starting place in the France team.
Deschamps’ opinion: “The international dimension comes with what he does. Already scoring goals is very important in Italy. He has great progress ahead of him, I tell him, his father (Lilian) too, and he knew it, but in Italy, a striker is mainly there to score goals. He must make his counter even higher.”
Our opinion: Giroud facing the low block, Kolo Muani for his speed, Thuram late
When we ask the coach the question of hierarchy, he sees us coming miles away and gives an agreed answer, without losing his smile. But without ever mentioning a name, he said a little more on Monday to Clairefontaine about his way of proceeding. “In my choice, it is more the profile in relation to the opponent, the type of match that we can facehe says. Olivier and Marcus (Thuram) have a similar profile, Kolo is different. If it’s a low block in the box, that may lead to a different choice (Giroud/Thuram). If there is a little more space, this may lead to another choice (Kolo Muani).” Facing the Netherlands, eager to wash the first leg clash (4-0), the Blues could benefit from space behind the defense. A scenario which should benefit Randal Kolo Muani, very valuable in this situation. But the pivotal game, the ability to attract the attention of the central players and the discounts for Mbappé, Dembélé or Coman, also play a role for Olivier Giroud. In both cases, barring injury, the Parisian and the Milanese will take turns on Friday evening in Amsterdam.