Olivier Giroud tells France teammates to prepare for World Cup ‘derby match’ against Belgium

France's Olivier Giroud ahead of the Belgium semi-final clash. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)
Updated 09 July 2018
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Olivier Giroud tells France teammates to prepare for World Cup ‘derby match’ against Belgium

ST. PETERSBURG: Les Bleus beat Uruguay 2-0 in their quarterfinal to set up the last-four clash against neighbors Belgium, who beat Brazil 2-1 in their quarterfinal.
They go in as slight favorites but with so many of the players familiar to each other there is very little the two sides do not know about each other.
For Giroud that means one thing: It is going to be a tense battle, which will seem like a derby match.
“We don’t want to have them taking the mickey out of us. There is a big rivalry between France and Belgium, it’s like a derby match,” the France striker said.
And the presence of French World Cup winner Thierry Henry on the Belgian coaching staff as one of Roberto Martinez’s assistants adds extra spice to the occasion.
“It will be bizarre to have him up against us,” Giroud said.
“He is a living legend of French football. He has given so much to the France team and we have got a lot of respect for what he has done. But we’re not thinking about it too much, we’re going to be focused on the pitch and our game.”
“Of course I would prefer it if he were with us and he were giving me his advice, but we mustn’t be jealous.”
The slick Belgium side, which boasts the talents of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, are the only team to have won all their matches in Russia and are the top scorers, with 14 goals.
Confidence is sky-high after they beat Brazil in the quarterfinals but they will come up against formidable opponents in France as they try to reach their first World Cup final.
“The players have been working together extraordinarily well for many years, and they deserve to be exactly where they are today,” Martinez said.
“I feel that the most important aspect we worked on was the notion of being a team. Individual skills and talent are important, but in these tournaments, it’s absolutely necessary to play as a team.
“It’s a trip into the unknown. We’ve never been in such a situation, and that’s why we need our team spirit more than ever against France. We need to be the best version of ourselves.”
Kylian Mbappe was lethal in France’s 4-3 second-round win over Argentina, using his pace to devastating effect, but Martinez said his side would not make the mistake of focusing solely on one player.
“Both (teams) have the right mix of youth and experience and also lots of individual talent,” he said.
“We will need to anticipate (Mbappe) and be well-positioned. We need to defend spaces more than the player himself. We are not going to forget the others since France have a complete attacking pattern.
“These players need to play without fear to keep all options open. Like a voyage to the moon: We need to face it full of illusions.”


Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

Updated 56 min 23 sec ago
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Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

  • The Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland
  • The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter

LOS ANGELES: Draymond Green exploded for a seventh career playoff triple-double Saturday as the Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland and a 3-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.
The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter, but with Green driving them they produced another dominant third period to seize control of the contest and the series.
No team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. The Trail Blazers will try to fend off elimination when they host game four on Monday.
Green scored 20 points with 13 rebounds and 12 assists, keeping the Warriors afloat in the first half before superstar Stephen Curry came alive with 21 of his 36 points after the interval.
“There aren’t many guys in the game that can (affect both ends of the floor),” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Green beforehand. “Draymond can do both.”
His intensity was on display on both ends of the court, and on the sidelines as he exhorted teammates to keep pushing.
Klay Thompson added 19 points for the Warriors, who were again without injured star Kevin Durant.
“All my teammates, my coaches have been telling me, ‘Draymond, get to the hole, be aggressive,’” Green said of his mindset.
“We’ve got guys out there, Steph, Klay and those guys who draw a lot of attention, so it’s on me to do my job and come through for those guys.”
CJ McCollum led Portland with 23 points. Damian Lillard, relentlessly double-teamed by the Warriors, added 19 points.
Center Meyers Leonard, making just his third start of the season, finished with 16 points.
Leonard made the most of his opportunity early, connecting on five of seven shots from the field in the first half on the way to 13 points.
The Trail Blazers, energized in front of a rowdy home crowd at the Moda Center, quickly built a 10-point lead before the Warriors trimmed it to two — 29-27 — at the end of the first quarter.
But the Blazers kept the pressure on, stretching the lead to 18 in the second quarter.
A steal by Lillard produced a thunderous dunk from Leonard, then Portland’s Seth Curry stole the ball from his superstar brother Stephen and raced for a three-pointer that made it 60-42 with 2:28 remaining in the first half.
Portland took a 66-53 lead into the locker room, but the Warriors responded with a monster third quarter, using a 22-6 scoring run to take their first lead of the game, 77-76 on a layup by Kevin Looney — assisted by Green.
Golden State out-scored Portland 29-13 in the quarter to lead by three heading into the final frame.
The Warriors pushed the lead to 11 with 4:51 remaining and the Trail Blazers wouldn’t get the deficit below eight from there.