DOHA (Reuters) – Karim Benzema’s last-minute exit was deemed a blow by everyone in the France squad, but it could actually be a blessing in disguise, with Kylian Mbappe now set to be linked with his preferred attacking partner. Olivier Giroud. .
Mbappe and Benzema combined brilliantly at times but the PSG forward says Giroud’s style of play suits him better.
The lone striker position gives Mbappe perfect support in or close to the penalty area, while he and Benzema can fill in for each other.
The pair could start together in the defending champions’ Group D opener against Australia on Tuesday, with Ousmane Dembele adding his pace and Antoine Griezmann’s tempo-controlling skills.
“I have more freedom in France than in my team,” Mbappe said in September, when Giroud was recalled in the absence of the injured Benzema. “The coach knows there is a number nine like Olivier who plays a role in defence.”
“So the ball gives me space to listen.”
France beat Austria 2-0 in the Nations League, and Mbappe praised Giroud.
“He is superior on the pitch and he can bring the three of us together (with Griezmann) without separating from the rest of the team,” Mbappe said.
Giroud, who is 36 and two goals behind Thierry Henry’s France record of 51, couldn’t agree more.
“I’m a target guy. In my career I’ve played with players who like my style because they can use me. It’s something Kylian loves, it’s a reward for him,” Giroud said last week.
Benzema was ruled out of Saturday’s game with a thigh injury.
Coach Didier Deschamps was dropped from the 25-man squad to replace him.
Reporting by Julian Brito. Editing by Ed Osmond
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