A controversial World Cup featuring Lionel Messi and a particularly petulant Cristiano Ronaldo means people aren’t talking about Olivier Giroud.
That will suit him. France’s freshly-crowned all-time top goalscorer has always fought for recognition and continues to do so in Qatar.
With Portugal eliminated, the prospect of a Messi VS Ronaldo final is off the table. As a result, the entire Messi VS Ronaldo narrative can get in the bin too (unless Argentina win the final).
It would be a reach to present an idea of Olivier Giroud as the true rival to Messi’s crown. However, Olivier Giroud can say something Messi cannot: he is a world champion.
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A World Cup victory this time around would mean more to Giroud than 2018. The nerdier among us understand that Giroud was vital in France’s 2018 triumph. However, he didn’t score a goal and strikers need to score to truly make their mark. This time, he is scoring goals, thus imposing himself on the tournament in a tangible and obvious way.
Just look at how Giroud celebrated when he scored against England. How much it meant to him. At 36 years old, he scored the 2-1 goal in a World Cup quarter final to become his country’s top scorer. That’s as good as it gets.
He must have thought about every time somebody said he wasn’t good enough, which was often. He must have thought about every person who said he was nothing special, just a target man. Here he is, still doing what every player dreams of, doing what Cristiano Ronaldo can no longer do for Portugal – scoring vital goals in big games.
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I’m reticent to write in terms of what is expected to happen at this world cup. However, a France VS Argentina appears to be likely. If it does, the world will be behind Messi as he looks to crown his career.
That is no guarantee because Olivier Giroud will have something to say about it, and he doesn’t need the world to be behind him. It never has been.