Despite the fact Olivier Giroud has performed admirably at the World Cup, recent shock reports suggest the AC Milan star could be dropped ahead of their clash with Argentina.
France boss Didier Deschamps is allegedly considering a shock tactical move to drop Giroud for the final, in favour of playing Kylian Mbappe as a central striker to try and out-wit the Argentines.
Given Giroud has scored four goals in five games in Qatar, it would be an extremely questionable decision to drop your second-top-scorer ahead of the biggest match on the football calendar… but onlookers at France’s training camp insist they have been preparing for it.
Today, the France squad trained at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, which saw the return of Ibrahima Konate, Raphael Varane, Aurelien Tchouameni and Kingsley Coman after they were temporarily sidelined with illness.
During the session, the squad played a training game where Deschamps put out an almost exact replica of the squad that beat England a week ago.
However, Giroud was not present in the initial line-up, with the French boss instead starting Marcus Thuram on the left wing and Kylian Mbappe as the centre-forward, according to French outlet RMCSport.
Whilst you obviously can’t take a training match squad as gospel, Thuram has already played on the left twice for France in the competition, against both Poland and Morocco, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility he could feature there tomorrow.
It could be a logical decision in a defensive sense, too. Mbappe and Giroud do very little, if anything, to defend, whereas Thuram is capable of tracking back to help his team.
In the semi-final against Morocco, there were occasions when left-back Theo Hernandez was exposed due to a lack of support from Mbappe.
Morocco may have failed to capitalize on those opportunities, but the likes of Julian Alvarez, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria may have more joy in a similar situation.
A tactical bluff from Deschamps?
Later on in the session, Giroud regained his place as a central striker, with Mbappe once again on the left. Could it be that Deschamps is simply playing mind games with Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni?
There is no doubt that Deschamps is a decorated, experienced manager, having successful spells at Monaco, Juventus and Marseille before becoming the France boss in 2012.
Of course, he also led Les Blues to World Cup victory in 2018, where once again Mbappe stole the show.
Even with his previous successes and experience, it would be a borderline-insane move to drop Giroud, who still has a chance of winning the golden boot if he nets twice against Argentina.
The former Arsenal and Chelsea man also offers something different to Mbappe.
Giroud is outstanding in the air, a top-quality finisher and arguably his positioning in and around the six-yard box is superior, too.
Whatever line-up Deschamps decides to go for, we are undoubtedly in for a fantastic World Cup final.
Two generational superstars in Messi and Mbappe will go head to head in a game that means everything to both nations.
Will it be the passing of the baton from the disputed GOAT to his PSG teammate? Or does the magical Messi have one more night of brilliance left in him on the world stage?
We can’t wait to find out.
READ MORE: World Cup final: France v Argentina combined XI includes Messi, Mbappe as Giroud misses out