Didier Deschamps has defended his decision to substitute Olivier Giroud in France’s World Cup win over Australia, delaying his bid to become France’s all-time leading goalscorer outright.
Giroud equalled Thierry Henry’s record of 51 goals for France with a brace on Tuesday, helping Les Bleus fight back to post a 4-1 win in their Group D contest.
However, the striker was replaced by Marcus Thuram in the closing stages, meaning he will have to wait until Saturday’s meeting with Denmark for another chance to seize the record for himself.
Deschamps was defensive when asked why he withdrew Giroud in his post-match press conference, responding: “Would you like to take my place and be the coach? “Olivier Giroud did what he does best, he scored goals. You have to manage a lot of things as a coach.
“We have another match in four days and we’d already scored four goals, so sometimes it’s good to give someone else a chance and give him a rest.
“You tend to talk about records a lot, he tends to focus on what he does on the pitch. “He was very effective tonight, which is great for him, he’s useful with the way he links up with the other attackers in our team.” As well as claiming a slice of France history, Giroud - aged 36 years and 53 days - became the second-oldest player to score a World Cup brace, after Roger Milla did so twice at the 1990 tournament when 38 years old.
France initially looked unlikely to make a positive start to their World Cup defence, with Adrien Rabiot having to cancel out Craig Goodwin’s opener before Giroud took centre stage.
Deschamps was pleased with Les Bleus’ response to going behind after witnessing other sides fail to fight back in the tournament’s opening round of fixtures.
“I think we began the match well, we linked up well in the first few minutes but we let in a goal which we should have avoided,” Deschamps said.
“It was tough, but in the second half we showed a lot more confidence, we created a lot more chances and scored four goals, so of course that is good. We could have scored more, but it’s a very good beginning.
“The first match is always vital, so I have to congratulate the team.
We saw some earlier games where teams were unable to respond, but we did. We showed strength of character.” Tuesday began with one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history as Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1, but Deschamps said that surprise result had no bearing on France’s approach.
“The players saw that match, but you have to focus on the opponent that’s in front of you,” he added.