A striker who was supposed to be dispensable now has only one equal.
That’s the story of Olivier Giroud, who just keeps going, and keeps scoring. The 36-year-old finally got the goal he didn’t in 2018 to claim his first in the World Cup in eight years before quickly following it with another.
Giroud may well surpass that in this tournament, a World Cup he wasn’t even expected to start in. This was precisely why Karim Benzema’s injury wasn’t seen as anything close to a disaster by the French, despite his immense quality.
They’d already won a World Cup with Giroud and, far from the Real Madrid player taking them to another level, the belief is that the team just works better with the Milan striker. He links it all together. Kylian Mbappe certainly enjoys playing with him.
As regards levels, the reality of this game was that a plucky but hugely limited Australia just couldn’t get close to France.
There’s no shame in that, and they could actually take credit for the manner in which they gave the defending champions a scare.
It was certainly a moment Craig Goodwin will cherish.
If nothing else, even in a tournament as controversial as this, the World Cup is a rare chance to dream. That’s the magic of it. That’s what Australia briefly enjoyed, which might have made even this defeat worth it.
There was, even if just for a few minutes, the authentic hope something incredible could be on. The manner of the goal would certainly be fitting. It was one of those flowing moves that illustrates a team seizing an opportunity, not dissimilar to Saudi Arabia earlier in the day. Mathew Leckie swerved in a cross and Goodwin smashed it across Hugo Lloris and into the roof of the net.
Since the ball did involve a deflection, Australia had also got lucky, just as France seemed to get even unluckier. They suffered another injury as poor Lucas Hernandez crumpled in a heap trying to intercept Leckie.
The fact he didn’t move as the goal went in illustrated the seriousness. He inevitably had to go off.
It is probably France’s major concern for the game.
One of Deschamps’s best qualities, however, is how he rallies his sides to overcome setbacks.
There was none of the panic we saw from Argentina.
In fact, Australia were resorting to hurried and desperate clearances as early as the 14th minute. That indicated it was going to be a long night, although France fairly quickly ensured there was little doubt about the result.
After Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele had surged through the flanks several times, Australia’s defence finally began to come apart. Theo Hernandez spotted one of the growing gaps and clipped in a cross for Adrien Rabiot to head home.
Crisis averted. Normal service incoming.
Just moments later, Nathaniel Atkinson had his pocket picked, Mbappe flicked on to Rabiot and Giroud got his landmark goal.
The curiosity about the game from then is that Australia still had moments of danger - a Mitchell Duke long-range strike, a Jackson Irvine header off the post - but France never really felt in any danger.
By contrast, they were becoming so comfortable they were starting to express themselves and try things.
One of the main features of the game was Mbappe endlessly trying those backheels. Giroud at one point went for a bicycle kick when he could have headed it. The ball went narrowly wide, before being cleared off the line from an Antoine Griezmann strike.
If that might have fostered the feeling that France were getting complacent and could get caught in the way Switzerland did to them in Euro 2020, the truth here was that there was too much of a gap between the sides.
They knew they could just raise it. And so Dembele did precisely that, lifting the ball for Mbappe to head home.
He now had his goal, and Giroud soon had the record.
It was another header, to put him level with Henry.
He eventually went off to the widespread congratulation of his teammates.
More is to follow, not least from Giroud’s team.
France played within themselves and yet displayed their potential.
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