Olivier Giroud, Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram… Three candidates for a center forward place

Seven months before the Euro, Didier Deschamps still seems to be groping to choose the real holder for the center forward position. Olivier Giroud, Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram are fighting for this place.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial


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Marcus Thuram, Randal Kolo Muani and Olivier Giroud are all three candidates for the position of striker in the France team.  (AFP)

By scoring a double against Gibraltar on Saturday in Nice, Olivier Giroud not only increased his total achievements for the French team (126 caps, 56 goals). The AC Milan striker, who should start the match against Greece on Tuesday, November 21, above all demonstrated that his determination and desire are intact, even when he only plays a few minutes of a match. And this, even though Didier Deschamps has been testing the center forward position for several months.

The top scorer in the history of the Blues is 37 years old and it is obviously imperative to think about the future. The next, in fact, is coming soon with Euro 2024 which will begin in seven months in Germany. For the moment, it is still difficult to determine with certainty the identity of the center forward who will start the first match of this European championship with the Blues. Olivier Giroud, Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram are the three candidates.

Kolo Muani (12 caps, 1 goal) was the first to start this year 2023 as center forward, against the Netherlands in March. But in seven games – including five as a starter – the striker has not been decisive once with the Blues. Transferred to Paris Saint-Germain last summer, the 24-year-old player is still adapting to his new status at club and national level. “He is a young player who still has steps to take, but he maintains his serenity.”reassures Deschamps.

Kolo Muani “skillful, but perhaps a little too altruistic”

The coach raised a question of “trust” to discuss the situation of the Parisian and on this subject, Jean-Pierre Papin knows a lot about it. The former French international (54 caps, 30 goals) judges Kolo Muani “very skillful in front of goal, but perhaps a little too altruistic”. “What he lacks is a little selfishness. And above all, for confidence, he must play a lot and score a lot.”estimates the 1991 Ballon d’Or, who also appreciates Kolo Muani “on one side”.

Starting in France’s major matches this year – against the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland or Greece in the first leg – Kolo Muani should be a substitute this evening for the second time in a row, after having remained on the bench against Gibraltar. A downgrade recorded by Deschamps? Rather a question of management on the part of the coach, who knows that the striker will have to play again on Friday in Ligue 1 with PSG.

According to Jean-Pierre Papin, Marcus Thuram and Olivier Giroud, here during the qualifying match against the Netherlands on October 13, 2023, would be best equipped to support Kylian Mbappé in attack.  (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Against Gibraltar, it was Thuram (15 caps, 2 goals) who started the match and took the opportunity to score. The one who played as a winger until recently continues to master the attacking position. A repositioning validated by its captain, Kylian Mbappé: “I’ve been telling him for years that he’s going to end up there. He doesn’t listen to me. I told him that he was going to end up as a center forward, because he has all the qualities to be a very good scorer..”

Thuram and Giroud best equipped to support Mbappé?

Thuram was transferred to Inter Milan this summer and flourished there (5 goals and 8 assists). “He has all the characteristics of today’s top striker: he’s fast, he’s tall, he’s good in front of goal, good with his head and a good deliverer.analyzes Papin. Now he needs consistency, scoring often so that he gets this position under his skin. He’s still missing some automatisms because he’s still discovering it.”

Against Gibraltar, Deschamps saw fit to give Thuram playing time, to allow him “to gain experience”. During last year’s World Cup, the coach insisted on the importance of introducing his young players to the demands of the highest level. To evolve alongside Mbappé and put the latter in the best conditions – one of the aspects that will play in Deschamps’ mind when making his choice – Papin believes that Thuram and Giroud are best placed.

Because Giroud the stainless is still there. “And he doesn’t seem ready to give up his place.”, laughs Papin. The latter judges that Kolo Muani and Thuram must “learn from his movements, his preparation, his attitude in front of the goals“, in a collective approach. The best scorer in the history of the Blues will try to score again against Greece this Tuesday.

Will Deschamps have managed to forge an international level striker between now and the Euro, or will he fall back on Giroud, already a starter in several competitions? After this last match of the year against Greece, he will have four friendly matches left in 2024 to decide who will be his starting center forward in Germany.

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