An emerging feud between French strikers Kylian Mbappé and Olivier Giroud has become public, potentially threatening the team’s unity ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Germany.
It all started on Tuesday after France’s 3-0 friendly win over Bulgaria when Giroud hinted he would not get the serve he deserved – seen by some as a blow to Mbappé.
Giroud scored two goals after replacing Karim Benzema, and several of his teammates ran towards him to celebrate his debut. But not Mbappé, who seemed to be walking in the opposite direction.
“I was calm because sometimes you race and the balls just don’t come,” Giroud told L’Équipe TV. “I don’t always pretend to make the right choices, but I have tried to provide solutions in the field. “
Mbappé said on Sunday that he had been “a little affected” by the growing unrest caused by Giroud’s remarks. “What he said doesn’t bother me more than that,” Mbappé said at a press conference, according to L’Équipe. “He expresses a feeling when he speaks. I’m a striker and I’ve had that feeling 365 times in a game, when you feel like you’re not being served.
“It’s more about publishing it publicly. I saw him in the locker room, I congratulated him on his goals, he didn’t say anything to me. I heard about it in the press. It is more [important] only what he said – he didn’t say anything bad.
Mbappé declared that he did not want to make “a big deal out of it” and added: “We are here to represent France, that is the most important”.
Giroud’s regular place in France’s attack has been threatened by Benzema’s recall after a nearly six-year absence from the national team. However, Benzema limped against Bulgaria with a minor knee injury and is in doubt for the game against Germany in Munich on Tuesday, raising the possibility of Giroud returning to the squad.
Giroud and Benzema had an icy relationship before Benzema’s fallout with coach Didier Deschamps. Giroud took Benzema’s place to become France’s second-best scorer with 46 goals, five behind Thierry Henry’s national record.