Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has mocked France striker Olivier Giroud by likening himself to a Formula One car and Giroud a go-kart.
Benzema has not played for France since 2015 and watched from afar as Giroud spearheaded the team’s World Cup triumph in Russia two years ago.
With over 500 appearances for Real Madrid and in his 11th season with the Spanish giants, no questions remain over Benzema’s playing skills.
Asked about the Chelsea forward during a question and answer session on Instagram on Sunday night, Benzema said: “You can’t confuse a Formula One car with a go-kart, and I’m being kind. I know I’m a Formula One car…
“It works because he’s there, that’s it. It’s not going to be spectacular. (Antoine) Griezmann and (Kylian) Mbappe get seen more while he rolls his sleeves up and does the dirty work.
“But does everyone like his game? I don’t know.”
During the 2016 and 2017 seasons ahead of up Russia 2018, Giroud scored 16 goals for France in 24 games.
He also played every match at the World Cup and although he failed to find the target in Russia, his team came home with the trophy.
France coach Didier Deschamps has sidelined Benzema since a legal case in 2015.
The case involving Benzema allegedly trying to facilitate a scheme to blackmail fellow France international Mathieu Valbuena over a compromising private film on a stolen mobile phone.
The investigation is ongoing and Benzema is now waiting to hear if he will face a criminal trial.
Benzema has scored 19 goals in 32 appearances for Real Madrid this season while Giroud has largely been a back-up player for Chelsea, despite a decent run of form in February.
Olivier Giroud hopes to have kickstarted his Chelsea career after coming off the bench to inspire an eight-minute turnaround from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Southampton on Saturday with his first Premier League goals for the club.
The French international striker has largely struggled to make an impact since his deadline day move from Arsenal in January, putting his place at the World Cup at risk.
“I’ve been through some difficulties in my career, but I always try to come back stronger and it happened today,” said Giroud.
“The most important thing is to never give up, believe in our quality, play our game and I am proud of what we have done today.”
Defeat is another body blow to Saints’ chances of avoiding relegation as they remain rooted in the bottom three when for so long they seemed set for a first home win in the Premier League since November.
Dusan Tadic and debutant Jan Bednarek put the hosts in command, but Giroud struck either side of Eden Hazard’s equaliser to cut the gap on Liverpool and Tottenham in the fight for a top-four finish and Champions League football next season to seven points.
“As long as it is mathematically possible we will believe we can reach the top four,” added Giroud. “We have got five finals to play, after that we will see.”
The two sides will meet again in the FA Cup semi-finals next weekend, and Southampton will do well to raise themselves for cup glory with their place in the Premier League next season looking ever more precarious.
“As has been the case all year apparently we’ve got a soft underbelly,” said Saints boss Mark Hughes, whose three Premier League games in charge have now all ended in defeats. “When the momentum shifts against us we can’t get a platform and wait until the momentum swings our way again.”
Alonso escapes red
Southampton had got off to a perfect start thanks to a former Chelsea player as Ryan Bertrand burst past Cesar Azpilicueta before squaring for Tadic to apply a simple finish.
Only a fine save low to his right from Thibaut Courtois denied Saints a second through James Ward-Prowse as Chelsea struggled to create anything of note before the break.
“Our first half was very negative,” said Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. “We didn’t show great spirit, desire, will to fight to win this game.
“But I saw a great reaction. If you don’t have something in you’re heart, it’s difficult to come back and win this game.”
Chelsea’s frustration overspilled as tempers flared late in the first period when Marcos Alonso was lucky to escape unpunished for raking his studs down Shane Long’s calf.
“It’s a clear red card and clear intent to hurt Shane,” raged Hughes. “It could’ve broken his leg. There were three officials within five to 10 yards so how each of them missed it is a mystery to me.”
Bednarek marked his Premier League debut in style when he half-volleyed expertly across the goal and into the far corner from Ward-Prowse’s free-kick on the hour mark.
Conte swiftly responded by hauling off the disappointing Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta for Pedro Rodriguez and Giroud.
And Giroud showed what he is capable of with a brave near post header from Alonso’s pinpoint cross to get Chelsea back in the game and spark an incredible fightback 20 minutes from time.
Five minutes later Hazard levelled by smashing home Willian’s cross from close range.
With Southampton reeling, Giroud then completed Chelsea’s comeback when he pounced on a loose ball inside the area to drive into the bottom corner.
Chelsea signed France striker Olivier Giroud from London rivals Arsenal on Wednesday’s transfer deadline day, freeing up Michy Batshuayi to leave Stamford Bridge on loan to German side Borussia Dortmund.
Premier League champions Chelsea revealed on their website that Giroud had signed an 18-month contract, with the 31-year-old saying: “Chelsea is one of the biggest teams in the Premier League. They have won maybe the most trophies in the last six or seven years.
“It’s a massive club and I am proud to sign for Chelsea, and I’m looking forward to playing.”
League leaders Chelsea thrashed Bournemouth 3-0 at Stamford Bridge with a brace from Pedro Rodriquez and a goal from Belgian forward Eden Hazard.
With the victory, Chelsea set a club-record 12th successive Premier League victory while Hazard also earned his 50th Premier League goal
Pedro had given Chelsea the lead with a curled effort from 18 yards supplied by Cesc Fabregas’ 98th Premier League assist, before Hazard scored a penalty in the 49th minute after he was fouled by Simon Francis.
The Belgian became the sixth Chelsea player to reach 50 PL goals after Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Gianfranco Zola and Eidur Gudjohnsen.
AFC Bournemouth were dangerous throughout and twice went close through Jack Wilshere and substitute Benik Afobe, but Antonio Conte’s men held firm and got a late third through Pedro’s deflected shot.
Manchester United’s resurgence in the English Premier League continued as the Red Devils beat Sunderland 3-1 at Old Trafford with goals from Daley Blind, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Mkhitaryan.
Olivier Giroud’s 87th minute goal was all arsenal needed to secure maximum points against West Brom at the Emirates Stadium while Watford and Crystal Palace played a 1-1 draw.
Everton also beat defending champions Leicester City 2-0 while West Ham secured a priceless 4-1 away victory over Swansea City.
Arsenal on Sunday afternoon defeated Bournemouth 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium to maintain fourth spot in the English Premier League.
With Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool having won on Saturday, Arsenal needed all three points to maintain the chase on the leaders and break further ahead of London rivals, Tottenham Hotspurs who lost to Chelsea.
Arsene Wenger’s men started well and got their reward early in the 12th minute with a calmly taken goal from Alexis Sánchez coming off an error from Steve Cook.
The Bournemouth defender got the ball from his goalkeeper, before slotting a scuffed pass back across his area and into the path of the Arsenal striker.
However, the lead did not last.
In what seemed like a harsh decision, Bournemouth got a lifeline with a penalty award after minutes of good pressure on the Arsenal defence.
Callum Wilson stepped forward to convert in the 23rd minute, making history as the scorer of Bournemouth’s first ever goal against the Gunners in history.
Walcott made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute. Ozil showed some lovely footwork, before curling a cross towards the back post. Monreal received it and guided a square ball towards the back post, which the England international was able to nod home from close-range.
Sanchez finished what he started and sealed the game for Arsenal in the 90th minute after Olivier Giroud picked out the Chile international in the six-yard box.
The 3-1 victory brought an end to Arsenal’s three game win-less run after draws against Spurs, Manchester United and PSG had left fans nervous.
The Gunners remain three points behind table leaders Chelsea.
At the Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands as Manchester United were again frustrated at home with a 1-1 draw against West Ham.
Southampton beat Everton by a lone goal while Stoke City also defeated Watford by same score line.
Earlier in the day, Watford lost 0-1 at home to Stoke City.
On Saturday, Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in the league to 11 games with a 2-0 win against Sunderland while Sergio Aguero scored twice to give Manchester City a 2-1 victory at Burnley.
At the Liberty Stadium, fans witnessed an astonishing nine-goal thriller with seven goals scored after the break.
Substitute Fernando Llorente scored twice in stoppage time as Swansea recorded an incredible 5-4 victory over Crystal Palace.
Nigerian winger, Ahmed Musa was a second half substitute for Leicester City as they struggled to a 2-2 draw against Middleborough.
Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey will be available for Arsenal’s Premier League trip to Sunderland on Saturday.
Giroud has finally overcome a long-term toe problem, while midfielder Ramsey will feature for the first time since the opening day of the season after hamstring trouble.
Manager, Arsene Wenger, however, prefers to be cautious.
“They are available for selection. I have to be a bit cautious, especially with Aaron Ramsey, because he has not played at all yet. He has only had one week with the team so I will be a bit cautious with him.”
Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott are all in a race to be fit while Lucas Perez is out for eight weeks after damaging ankle ligaments in the win over Reading in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.
The manager described the Perez injury as very frustrating, especially because it came just after the player had worked very hard to start getting games.
“Of course he is absolutely gutted, because it’s an injury coming from nowhere, and a stupid one, because it was a deliberate kick. It’s a similar tackle to (the one from) Xhaka (against Swansea), but there was no red card.
“But the red card would not have helped Lucas. What is most important is that he’s out for six to eight weeks,” Wenger said.