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Russia plan squad purge for World Cup


Giroud: Benzema first choice for France

Olivier Giroud has insisted he and Karim Benzema have a "healthy" rivalry as they vie for a place in the France team, but the Arsenal forward admits he is a step behind his compatriot for now.

Olivier Giroud netted twice in France's World Cup qualifying campaign.

World Cup Daily

Despite his goalscoring prowess for the Gunners this season, Giroud trails Benzema in the race for the sole central striking position in Les Bleus' lineup.

When the Real Madrid man's form dropped off in the autumn, Didier Deschamps did promote Giroud to centre stage. However, though he produced a solid display in a crucial qualifying win over Belarus, Giroud failed to find the net.

Benzema has responded with four strikes in five outings for his country, marking a spectacular return to form after going more than a year without a goal for his nation and condemning Giroud to a bit-part role.

"Right now, I feel like the backup, yes. I had my chance, but I wasn't very decisive, even if I feel that I contributed to the victory in Belarus," Giroud told RMC. "Karim is back as first-choice again and I am there to bring that little bit extra.

"Why not play as a pair? In tactical terms, we could be put together if we have to go and get a result. You have to be able to take risks, even though that's up to the coach.

"When Benzema wasn't playing so well, I had my chance. I was in the starting lineup in Belarus. I didn't get the chance to score. Benzema has legitimacy as a striker at Real.

"It's good to have forwards who complete each other and are complementary in their qualities. Both of us along with [Loic] Remy and other strikers have the possibility to contribute. At the moment, Karim's in form, so am I. We need everyone to have a good World Cup. The competition for places has always been healthy. We're there to lift the France national team."

Benzema has 15 La Liga goals to his name this season, compared to Giroud's 12 Premier League strikes for Arsenal.


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