Ahead of Euro 2012, Sport-locker.net caught up with France striker (and reportedly soon to be Arsenal signing) Olivier Giroud…
This is your first major tournament with the French national team. How much are you looking forward to it?
It’s really something new and very special, especially for a player who recently began his international career like me. So that makes it even more exciting and I’m really looking forward to it!
You have had a great season with Montpellier, playing a key role in helping them to become Ligue 1 Champions. Does this help you prepare for Euro 2012, how important is it for you to carry this confidence into the tournament?
The answer is in the question. When you’re successful and you have accumulated a lot of confidence, you play with more serenity, you are more liberated. In addition, as I am an attacker, to walk with much confidence is beneficial for me.
The French team has become united once again under Laurent Blanc. How is the spirit in the squad now?
We have a now gone 19 games without defeat, after our latest win against Iceland. While many things can be improved after this game, the main thing is that we picked up the win and it’s very positive for the group. We are united and we are confident in our qualities. And we are behind the coach, as he is behind us, we are very supportive.
You will play England in the first game. This is a massive game, with whoever winning it having a good chance of winning the group. How important is this to be successful in the tournament? What do you consider to be England’s strengths and weaknesses?
We know that the first match is crucial and that if we are the winner it will put is in a good place! We must not lose it for sure. But also it is important not to put too much pressure on ourselves either.
I don’t see many weaknesses for England. If I had to find one, I would say that they will miss Wayne Rooney in attack. Their coach changed recently, so they have less automation with the new staff.
But anyway, England is a team that has extensive experience in major competitions. Many players in their squad play in the Champions League every year. This is a group of players who know each other well and there is a good balance between the old and the new generation. But we also have great quality, it will be a great match.
How proud does it make you to represent France in the national team?
I started my international career recently, so this tournament is very special for me. Before, I knew the pride of representing one club, one city. But here it is a whole level above. Representing your country in a competition such as the European Championship is a great pride for me.
You scored your first international goal against Germany earlier this year, helping Les Bleus win. Can you describe this feeling?
I was so very proud and happy to score that goal. But I do not remember anything after scoring. At first I could not believe it actually, I did not realise I had scored. And then gradually you become aware of what you just did. I was so happy.
What would you consider to be a successful Euro 2012 for you and France?
The French team has struggled in major competitions for many years. So we will do everything to progress from the group stage. This is our first objective, and we will take build from there.
You will wear the PUMA evoSPEED iFG boot in the tournament. What is your opinion of this boot?
I see a real progression in this new shoe. It is lighter and more flexible. It also has a better grip, more traction to the ball. I played well in this shoe in the match against Iceland, I’m really happy with this new boot!