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Olivier Giroud claims Karim Benzema's return hindered France at Euro 2020

Tom Gott
Giroud admits France struggled to adjust to Benzema
Giroud admits France struggled to adjust to Benzema / Mihai Barbu - Pool/GettyImages

Olivier Giroud has claimed that Karim Benzema's high-profile return to the France national team at Euro 2020 did more harm than good to Les Bleus.

The reigning world champions were expected to run away with the trophy this summer once Benzema - undisputedly one of the best strikers in the world - returned to the squad after six years in exile relating to a sex tape scandal.

Unfortunately, that's not how things panned out. Benzema drew blanks in the first two group stage games, and although he netted twice in the final game and repeated that feat in the round of 16, it wasn't enough to save France from an early exit from the competition.

"His return created a tactical imbalance in terms of the team and our style of play," Giroud confessed to L'Equipe. "I say that honestly and with nothing against Karim.

"Many things happened despite him. We saw it well in certain games. The French team was able to make up for the tactical adaptation problem well afterwards. We saw that especially during the Nations League. But it needed time.

"[Euro 2020 was] frustrating. The objective was to go all the way, at least to the semi-finals. Personally, I knew what was awaiting me. But even if we know, it remains frustrating. I tried to keep that frustration to myself, inside, and turn it into positive energy like I always have."

The relationship between Giroud and Benzema was also hotly discussed before the tournament. The Real Madrid man once compared himself to a Formula One car and Giroud to a go-kart, but the AC Milan striker insists there are no problems between the two.

"There were never any issues," he stressed. "Karim has also changed, matured and developed well. Everything went well during the tournament. In fact, we ate at the same table together every day.

"Karim unintendedly disrupted our style of play which was established with specific attacking profiles for the last five years. Things couldn’t gel together from one day to the next, especially before a competition like the Euros.

"There are affinities and tactical reference points to find. We don’t have the same profile either."