The Europa League’s top marksman Olivier Giroud spoke to the media at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, discussing the challenge Chelsea face against Slavia Prague as well as explaining the situation regarding his own future.
The Frenchman has made the Europa League his own this season, netting an impressive nine goals in 10 appearances, two of which were as a sub.
Ahead of the second leg of our quarter-final tie against Slavia, which we come into off the back of a hard-fought 1-0 win in the Czech capital last week, Giroud answered questions from the press in the East Stand at Stamford Bridge. He started by assessing why he has enjoyed such success in this competition so far.
‘I have had the opportunity to play more in the Europa League,’ the 32-year-old said.
‘It’s been working until now. When the manager gives me the chance to bring something else to the team I try to bring my best. Hopefully I will score a couple more goals to help the team reach the final.
‘There are some very strong teams left in the Europa League. It’s going to be interesting, but first we have to win tomorrow.’
A final against his former club remains a possibility, but Giroud is certainly not thinking that far ahead right now, especially on the back of such a tricky first leg against Slavia.
‘We were very impressed by their quality and intensity. You get used to it in the Premier League, but honestly the first half was very tough. They put a lot of pressure on us, good pressing all over the pitch, so it was a very tough.
‘In the second half we had more possession and controlled the game, but they were still dangerous from counters. So we know what kind of team we will face tomorrow. They are not going to give up, and that’s why we are still cautious about this game.’
On the move?
Giroud explained there was no point gambling on winning this tournament to guarantee Champions League football next season when we still have a chance of finishing in the top four. Ideally we would do that, and then also triumph in Baku in late May.
The striker’s contract at Chelsea is up after that and he said he is yet to speak to the club about a possible renewal. Giroud is adamant he is happy at the Bridge, but he has one requirement if he is to stay beyond the summer.
‘I really want to play more. I’m not happy to play the second role. That’s why I said next year I will need to have a more important role to play in the team.
‘I have had offers from other clubs, but I cannot tell you [who]. My priority is Chelsea. With what I have achieved here, there is no reason they are not going to give one more year, but I want to be happy also.
‘The most important thing for me is to enjoy the game, be happy on the pitch and to have more minutes. I am a competitor. Trust me, I am very frustrated when I’m not on the pitch, but I don’t want to show it.
‘When you are a competitor and you have been through difficulties through your career, you need to keep that frustration for you and transform it into positive energy on the pitch.’
Flooding the box
During the press conference Giroud also said Eden Hazard is the best player he’s ever played alongside - he ranks him in the top three in the world right now.
The final question of the evening was about what it was like being a striker in our current system, and if he, Gonzalo Higuain and previously Alvaro Morata had struggled to adapt this season.
‘It’s not one player, it’s an offensive animation. Maybe we could be more dangerous with crosses or running in behind.
‘It’s not about the system sometimes, it’s the philosophy and finishing with more players in the box. I was watching games in the Champions League and the Premier League and I think we have to improve in that way, and finish with more players in the box.’