PARIS (AP) — Strike partners Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud scored as France began its World Cup warmup programme with a comfortable 2-0 home win against Wales in a friendly on Friday.
Both have struggled for their clubs, with Griezmann lacking goals for Atletico Madrid and Giroud hardly managing to get a game for Arsenal.
But in the continued absence of Karim Benzema for France they still work very well in tandem for Les Bleus. They have been coach Didier Deschamps’ front two since last year’s European Championship and are odds-on to continue at the World Cup in Russia next year.
France qualified top of its qualifying group while Wales failed to make the playoffs. France is away to Germany on Tuesday.
Griezmann showed balance and athleticism to volley in the opening goal in the 18th minute — his 19th for France — and Giroud’s composure under pressure allowed him to pick his spot in the 71st for his 29th international goal.
“We did what we had to do,” Deschamps said. “We created problems for them throughout. Germany is better than Wales, although this Wales side does not lose often.”
Giroud is doubtful for Germany after facing the Welsh with a minor injury to his right thigh.
“It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “I strapped it up and took one or two anti-inflammatories that enabled me to play. Luckily, because I don’t like to pull out.”
Griezmann’s goal will give him confidence after only two league goals for Atletico Madrid this season.
He held his run just late enough to latch onto Corentin Tolisso’s pass over the top of the defence and volleyed past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, although Hennessey should have done better as he got both hands to it.
“The pass made all the difference,” Griezmann said. “I know what he (Tolisso) is capable of and it was perfect.”
Giroud collected a pass from the irrepressible Kylian Mbappe and took one touch to stand up his marker and then fooled him by clipping a shot inside the post, with the deflection off defender James Chester making it even harder for Hennessey.
“Aside from my personal satisfaction, it’s great that we won tonight,” Giroud said. “We had a lot of chances and we managed to kill the game off. We did a lot of good things out there.”
Soon after, centre half Samuel Umtiti struck the top of the post with a fierce drive as France poured forward.
Wales has drifted since reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2016 and is clearly missing the injured Gareth Bale.
“That’s the best team we’ve ever played against,” Wales coach Chris Coleman said of France. “We gave some of the younger ones a taste of it. That’s invaluable that type of experience.”
His own future remains in the balance, with talks planned after the friendly against Panama in Cardiff on Tuesday.