Olivier Giroud happy with lead role
Olivier Giroud has insisted he is "not getting carried away" despite having established himself as France's No. 1 striker while William Gallas has backed Patrice Evra to make a positive impact in Les Bleus' World Cup playoff.
Giroud, 27, has struck virtually a goal every other game for Arsenal this season, form which has helped ease him ahead of Karim Benzema in the hierarchy at international level.
The Gunners' striker is expected to spearhead Les Bleus' lineup in Kiev on Friday in the first leg of their playoff, but despite seemingly having seen off competition from Benzema for the moment, Giroud has no intention of resting on his laurels.
"I have more credit now, but football -- and this is very serious -- is about forever starting over again," he said. "I haven't made it, I'm not getting carried away. I feel more at ease as I'm playing more, I have more confidence. When you arrive in a squad, in a company, you have a period of adaptation, which is variable in length, you have to get used to the others.
"In the French national team, when you arrive, you find yourself among the very best French players. It's not that easy, honestly. Things have evolved, and I'm conscious of that change."
Giroud will be hoping he can emerge from a mini-slump in form, which has seen him fail to score since Oct. 26, against Ukraine and ease the tension ahead of the second leg set for the Stade de France on Tuesday.
Patrice Evra will also find himself in the spotlight more than usual inside Kiev's Olympic Stadium following his vehement criticism of four media pundits, including Bixente Lizarazu, in a TV interview last month.
National team boss Didier Deschamps resisted calls to leave out Evra, 32, and former French international defender William Gallas told L'Equipe the 1998 World Cup winner had made the right choice in keeping faith with the outspoken Manchester United left-back.
"I know him well, and I know that he's a player who'll stand up and be counted in the playoff. He'll be there, he'll be solid, because he's solid in his head," the former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur centre-back explained.
"He's not arrogant, not at all. Sometimes I tell him: 'Pat, it's true that sometimes the way you are can...' But no, he's not arrogant. Each of us has our own personality. Certain people don't like the fact he says what he thinks. But a lot of players think the same things as him. He's a good guy, I'm sorry. He's not afraid. But we don't like that in football."