France will go into their World Cup semi-final against neighbours Belgium with a “hunger to win” and a desire to show their 1998 World Cup winner Thierry Henry that he picked the wrong side, says forward Olivier Giroud.
Retired French striker Henry is now a member of the Belgian coaching staff. The two sides will meet on Tuesday to decide who plays in July 15’s World Cup final.
“It is bizarre to have Thierry against us in this match,” Giroud said. “I would be very proud to show Thierry that he chose the wrong camp.”
Both teams have earned their billing as pre-tournament favourites, with France ousting Uruguay in the last eight and Belgium stunning five-time champions Brazil to book their own semi-final spot.
“I would have preferred to have Henry on our side, to give me and the other French forwards advice, but I am not too jealous,” the 31-year-old Giroud said.
The forward has been criticised by Henry in the past, but he said there were no hard feelings – just his hunger to win.
“It has been a few years since he said what he said about me. My job is to be good on the pitch, to represent France as well as possible. It is also a particular match for him.
“I really want to communicate (to France team-mates) my hunger to win.”
Kylian Mbappe also said it would be odd to face Henry. “It’s going to be weird to see Thierry again,” the 19-year-old told Telefoot. “He is someone I like a lot. There is a lot of respect between us. He was a great player, he inspired me.
“He is French, but he will be on the bench of the opponent. It will surely be weird for him too.”
Giroud said his team-mates knew Belgium very well with many players from both teams competing in the English Premier League, including himself.
But he said France were talented and experienced enough to break down Belgium’s defensive “wall” around keeper Thibaut Courtois.
“Courtois is difficult to play against. He is very good in this World Cup with a good defence in front of him,” Giroud said. “There will be gaps that will have to be used,” the forward added.
“I am convinced that we will break down this wall.”