February 5, 2023

Olivier Giroud has admitted he fears Kylian Mbappé’s talent and has warned England that the French striker has yet to reach his World Cup potential.

Mbappé, the tournament’s top scorer with five goals in his first four games, did not take part in training on Tuesday as he had to recover indoors. There was no report of injury in France’s camp and the Paris Saint-Germain striker will be England’s main threat as they face the world champions in the last eight on Saturday.

Mbappé is in sensational form and Gareth Southgate defenders are concerned that Giroud, who broke Thierry Henry’s record 51 goals for France when he opened the scoring in the 3-1 win over Poland in the last 16, believes the 23 year-old-old is able to level up one more.

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This is a World Cup like no other. For the past 12 years, The Guardian has covered the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights violations to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism has been collected on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football homepage for those who want to dig deeper into the issues off the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Photo: Caspar Benson

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“Kylian is one of the best players I’ve played with,” said Giroud. “He is great, which is scary because he can still improve. His game, he’s very efficient. He was crucial for us from the start of the game.

“He’s very decisive. He’s the best striker I’ve played with. We still haven’t seen the best of Kylian. I hope it comes soon. I know my records will be broken by him. I like him unbelievable.”

Giroud played a selfless role as France won the World Cup in 2018 and has ensured France didn’t miss out on Karim Benzema, who was ruled out last month after aggravating a thigh injury. Deschamps has put a lot of faith in the Milan striker, who has developed a good rapport with Mbappé both on and off the pitch. It enabled Giroud to explain why his team-mate has not spoken much in public.

Hugo Lloris, the captain of France
Hugo Lloris has given his France inside information about Harry Kane, his Spurs teammate. Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

“Everyone has their own personality and their own way of dealing with a big game,” said the 36-year-old. “It’s easier to be involved on the pitch if you de-dramatize the event. It is important to be serene, clear, calm and composed. That’s why he doesn’t speak off the field. He speaks on the field.”

Giroud is well aware of England’s qualities after spells at Arsenal and Chelsea. He said he had spoken to France and Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris about how much it would hurt to lose to Southgate’s side.

“England have had a good tournament so far,” said Giroud. “I hope they will have a tough game on Saturday. I was talking to Hugo. I know this team very well. We don’t want to lose to England. It’s a special game for us. There are so many great players, a young generation. They have quality but also quantity. It will be a great match to watch.”

Giroud expressed his admiration for Harry Kane and revealed that the French squad had spoken to Lloris about the Spurs and England striker. “He is very powerful and he plays with his back to goal,” he said. “In recent years he likes to move off the field to be involved in the game. He is very good with assists. He is a very good finisher, but he knows how to be generous to his teammates.”

Giroud, who insisted there would be no arrogance from France, was asked to face England centre-back Harry Maguire and John Stones.

“It’s going to be very tough and very exciting,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of games against these guys. Sometimes I’ve won, sometimes I’ve been a loser. I know them well and they know me well. It’s not just me against them.”

Giroud added that centre-back Raphaël Varane had uttered a rallying cry in the dressing room during half-time against Poland. “Varane had strong words,” he said. “He told us we couldn’t take our foot off the pedal. He told us to keep fighting. He told us to go and win – if we don’t fight now, tomorrow will be too late.

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