Giroud takes his chance as France eye playoffs

Sun Oct 13, 2013 6:26pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - Striker Olivier Giroud, who has grabbed his chance for automatic selection, will be a key figure on Tuesday when France seek victory over Finland and a probable place in next month's playoffs for the World Cup finals.

Giroud, 27, is set to make his third consecutive start, at Karim Benzema's expense, after helping les Bleus end a five-match goalless run when he led them to a 4-2 victory in Belarus last month.

The Arsenal frontman, who has won most of his 23 caps as a substitute, then scored two goals and played a leading role on Friday when France whipped Australia 6-0 in a friendly.

As world champions Spain, who are three points ahead in Group I, host Georgia, France look almost certain to face a two-legged playoff to book a place in next year's tournament in Brazil.

France aim to extend their recent winning run that started in Belarus where coach Didier Deschamps benched Benzema to field Giroud.

"Against Australia, we showed the same things that we had showed in Belarus, a lot of enthusiasm, the will to do well, and that's what will count in the next games," Giroud told reporters.

"We have to get used to victory, to love victory more and more and to hate defeat. What we've done against Australia gives us a lot of hopes for the future.

"I have trust in this team, I have a lot of hopes."

France had not scored for five games before Giroud was picked ahead of Benzema.   Continued...

France's Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates with team mate France's Samir Nasri after he scored against Australia during their friendly soccer match at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau