France coach Didier Deschamps says he will not drop Olivier Giroud for his side’s World Cup semi-final, despite the Chelsea striker failing to score in Russia.
Giroud, 31, has started France’s past four matches without finding the net, including Friday’s 2-0 quarter-final win over Uruguay.
Les Bleus face Brazil or Belgium in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
“It is true Olivier has not scored yet, but – I repeat – yet,” Deschamps said.
“He might not have the flamboyant style of other players but the team needs him in each and every match because even if he does not score, he does many things for us.”
As a player, Deschamps had a key midfield role when France won the 1998 World Cup without any goals from their much-maligned striker Stephane Guivarc’h, who played 268 minutes at that tournament without scoring.
Giroud, meanwhile, has now played a total of 380 minutes in Russia and, of the seven efforts at goal he has had in his five appearances, none of them have been on target.
England’s Harry Kane leads the race for the World Cup’s golden boot with six goals from three games so far, and from nine shots and 273 minutes in total,
Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele, who joined the Spanish giants in a £135.5m deal last summer, began Les Bleus’ first game against Australia but was replaced when Giroud was brought off the bench and has not started since.
Instead, the former Arsenal frontman – who moved to Stamford Bridge for about £18m in January – is preferred for his link play with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, who have made most of the headlines with their goals in Russia.
“Olivier is important to our team, and for our style of play,” Deschamps added. “Against Argentina [in the last 16], he made an assist for Mbappe and we need this sort of supporting play.
“Of course, if he could have scored, it would have been good but he has always had an important role for us – he is always extremely generous and he does not complain when it comes to working hard.
“He is useful in attack but also, because of his game, in defence too.
“He does many things for the team to be balanced, and it is the players around him that benefit from his presence because he attracts a lot of attention from the defenders.”
France’s win over Uruguay means they will play Brazil or Belgium in the last four in St Petersburg on Tuesday, but Deschamps brushed aside questions whether his side can go on to become world champions.
“For now, we have the potential to be in the semi-finals, that is certain,” he said.
“I don’t have a preference who we play – we have observed both of them from the beginning of the competition, so let’s see what awaits us.
“We still have some margin to get even better ourselves but, although our match against Argentina was not easy, we grew in that game.
“It could have just been a one-off but then to perform again at a high level against Uruguay, I think we have shown our mettle, which is very good news for us.
“Before the quarter-final I had six players that were already booked and now I have everyone available for the next match and that is great also.”