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 By Ian Holyman

France's OIivier Giroud used fan abuse 'to toughen up'

France will try to reach a third successive World Cup final on European soil after winning it all in 1998 and finishing runners-up in 2006.
France will have one of the strongest squads at the 2018 World Cup. Here's why.
France has so many terrific players that they could field four completely different squads and still be competitive in the World Cup.
World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf has some strong opinions on Paul Pogba and his role with the France national team.

Olivier Giroud has told AFP he used criticism from France fans over Karim Benzema's exclusion from the national team to "toughen up."

Real Madrid forward Benzema has not played for his country since October 2015, despite winning three consecutive Champions League titles at club level. 

Giroud has benefitted from the decision to omit Benzema, but has repeatedly been abused by fans, notably ahead of Euro 2016.

The Chelsea forward will head to the 2018 World Cup as one of France's strikers, and he admits the backlash from a section of his nation's supporters helped him develop a thick skin.

"Of course, no-one likes being criticised or whistled at," Giroud said. "But, you just work with it. I have used that to toughen up.

"It became unfair at a certain point in time, I had not asked for anything. It surprises me that we're still talking about it four years later."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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