Milan will attempt to recover from a miserable January when they do battle with in-form Inter in a derby at San Siro on Sunday.

The Rossoneri have suffered three consecutive defeats in all competitions, conceding 12 goals in the process to lose the Supercoppa Italiana and leave their hopes of retaining the Serie A title in tatters.

Stefano Pioli's side have slipped to fifth, but a victory this weekend would put them above their second-placed city rivals.

Either way, there are appears to be no stopping Napoli in their quest for the Scudetto, with the runaway leaders holding a 13-point advantage at the summit.

Stats Perform picks out the standout Opta numbers for a derby Milan fans may be dreading given their alarming slump.

Milan suffer the January blues

It has certainly not been a happy new year for Milan so far, and a 5-2 home defeat to Sassuolo last Sunday saw them sink to a new low.

That came on the back of a 4-0 hammering at Lazio, and Inter also capitalised on their defensive frailties to win the Supercoppa Italiana with a 3-0 victory last month.

Milan have extended the season of goodwill into 2023, and they made unwanted history in January, with the 18 goals they conceded more than they had previously shipped in any single month since records began in 1929-30.

The last time they lost four games in a row was between January and February 2017 under Vincenzo Montella.

Inter to deny Milan a long-awaited double?

Inter have won their past two games in all competitions and were able to keep defender Milan Skriniar during the transfer window, although he is expected to join Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season.

Simone Inzaghi's side have lost their past two Serie A derbies against Milan, but they have not suffered three losses in a row to their fierce rivals since a run of four defeats on the spin between November 2002 and February 2004.

Rafael Leao scored twice in a 3-2 win when Milan were the home team in the Serie A clash in September, and they will be striving to complete a first league double over Inter since the 2010-11 campaign.

Nerazzurri's strong home form built on solid foundations

While Milan can't stop conceding goals, Inter have had no such trouble at home in Serie A this season.

They have only let five goals in at home in the league, the joint-best record along with Roma.

Only Napoli (28) have earned more points at home this season than Inzaghi's men, who have 24 from 10 games – winning eight and losing two.

 

More derby delight for Giroud?

Milan striker Olivier Giroud has scored in both Serie A derbies he has played in against Inter.

The France international could become the first player to find the back of the net in his first three derbies for Milan in the three-points-for-a-win era (since 1994-95).

Giroud was on target in the drubbing at the hands of Sassuolo last weekend, that goal taking his tally in Serie A to six for the season.

Stefano Pioli accepts something has to change at Milan if they are emerge from their slump after achieving an unwanted first with their 5-2 loss at home to Sassuolo on Sunday.

The Rossoneri shipped four or more goals in successive Serie A matches for the first time in their history, having previously been thumped 4-0 at Lazio in midweek.

Milan also recently suffered a 3-0 defeat to rivals Inter in the Supercoppa Italiana, meaning they have lost three in a row in all competitions for the first time since September 2019.

Without a win in six games going further back, the pressure is building on head coach Pioli, who ended the club's 11-year Scudetto wait last season.

While the 57-year-old is expected to be given more time to turn things around, he understands Milan cannot carry on as they are.

"I'm thinking about many things," he told Sky Sport. "Everything that has worked over the past two years isn't working right now.

"It's clear that if you want to change results, you have to change something. I'll make the decisions that are needed to bring us more compactness, energy and better balance."

Domenico Berardi helped pile the misery on Milan at San Siro with a goal and assists for Gregoire Defrel, Davide Frattesi and Matheus Henrique.

Armand Lauriente was also on the scoresheet from the penalty spot, with Olivier Giroud and Divock Origi netting what proved to be consolation goals for out-of-form Milan.

 

It marks the first time the Rossoneri have conceded five goals at home in a league match since April 1997 when losing 6-1 to Juventus.

And with Serie A leaders Napoli 10 points clear of Milan ahead of facing Roma later on Sunday, Pioli concedes his side's hopes of defending the title are over.

"To say I'm disappointed doesn't cut it," Pioli said. "These recent performances have left us in difficulty, but this must push me to understand certain situations must be improved.

"We have to react. We probably won't be able to win the Scudetto again. Instead, our Scudetto is fighting to finish in the Champions League spots, which we can achieve."

Next up for Milan is another Derby della Madonnina showdown with Inter at San Siro next weekend, and striker Giroud has called for unity during a tough period for the club.

"It's a difficult moment for us, but we have to stay together," he told DAZN. "We have the support of the fans, which we have seen.

"We want to give everything for them on the pitch because they deserve more. At the moment I realise things are not going in the right direction. We have to work harder.

"Everything is going wrong for us. Our attitude is good and we want to do well, but it's not enough. 

"Whoever plays, however, must do more, myself included. Let's try to stay united. We have the opportunity to raise the level in the derby with Inter next week."

A goal and two assists from Italy international Domenico Berardi piled on the misery for Milan as Sassuolo thrashed the Rossoneri 5-2 at San Siro.

Sassuolo took an early two-goal lead thanks to goals from Gregoire Defrel and Davide Frattesi prior to Olivier Giroud pulling one back for the hosts.

Berardi made it 3-1 after just 30 minutes before Armand Lauriente's penalty and Matheus Henrique's effort in the second half handed Milan their second chastening loss in a week after their 4-0 humbling at Lazio on Tuesday.

Divock Origi scored a consolation for Stefano Pioli's side, who are now six games without a win heading into next weekend's Milan derby, including four in Serie A as their title defence continues to falter.

A VAR review denied Giroud an eighth-minute opener and, to make matters significantly worse, Milan found themselves two down inside 22 minutes.

Berardi squared for Defrel to tap in the opener before the same man fed Frattesi, who fired past Ciprian Tatarusanu at his near post after great work in the area.

Milan provided a swift response when Giroud expertly headed Davide Calabria's cross into the far corner in the 25th minute.

But the two-goal lead was restored on the half-hour mark when Berardi flicked a near-post header past Tatarusanu from a corner.

Milan's hopes of a second-half comeback were doused almost immediately as Lauriente was brought down in the penalty area by Calabria after 33 seconds of the restart, allowing the Frenchman to make it 4-1 from the spot, meaning Milan had conceded at least four goals in back-to-back Serie A games for the first time in their history.

Ante Rebic had a goal ruled out for offside before Henrique fired in a fifth with just over 10 minutes remaining, with Origi's curling strike into the top corner doing little to lift the gloom among the home fans.

Olivier Giroud plans to sign a new deal with Milan and is not ready to call time on his international career with France either.

The 36-year-old sees his contract with the Serie A outfit expire in June and has faced questions on his international future in the wake of Les Bleus' defeat in the 2022 World Cup final to Argentina.

France have already seen captain Hugo Lloris call time on his stint with the national side, with Karim Benzema also retiring – although he did not feature in Qatar due to injury.

However, Giroud, who became France's all-time leading scorer during the tournament, does not plan to follow suit.

"For the moment I continue with the national team. I was struck by the fact that Hugo has decided to leave, our relationship is special," he told Canal Football Club.

"Anything can happen, I have not withdrawn from the international stage and for this reason I remain callable.

"I have to understand if I still want to wear the blue shirt, which means a lot to me, I want to take some time before deciding."

Giroud has faced similar questions around his club future, as his deal with Milan expires at the end of the season, but he is keen to continue at San Siro.

"I want to renew with Milan, with the victory of the Scudetto I entered the hearts of the fans," he added.

"I'm talking to the club, if there is a chance to finish my career at a high level at Milan I will. I could choose an exotic destination; I've always liked MLS."

Milan sit second in Serie A, 12 points adrift of leaders Napoli, ahead of Tuesday's clash against Lazio.

Stefano Pioli understands the criticism Milan have received following a pair of demoralising results, but he insists the Scudetto race remains alive ahead of Saturday's trip to Lecce.  

Milan have endured a frustrating week, throwing away a two-goal lead in a dramatic Serie A draw with Roma on Sunday before crashing out of the Coppa Italia against 10-man Torino three days later.

The Serie A champions are seven points adrift of leaders Napoli ahead of Saturday's clash with a Lecce side unbeaten in their last five league games, but Pioli is backing his team to recover.

"It's normal that there is a more critical eye towards us because we won the Scudetto with excellent football," Pioli said. "When that fails, the finger is pointed more, but that's what we want.

"Criticism affects us because we didn't bring home the results we were supposed to bring home. 

"The season is long, the championship won't end tonight either. Let's not forget how we won the Scudetto."

Although Milan have been hamstrung by a lengthy injury list featuring the likes of Mike Maignan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Rossoneri will not look to strengthen in this month's transfer window as Pioli is content with his options.

"I remain convinced that our only problem is not having our complete squad in every department," Pioli said. "There is no need to intervene."

However, the Milan coach is hopeful of some important business being done by the club in the near future, with the Scudetto holders reportedly working on contract renewals for Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leao after Ismael Bennacer penned a new long-term deal on Thursday.

"I'm delighted for Isma. It's deserved for his will and determination," Pioli added. "Isma is very ambitious, with the humility of someone who knows he still has to improve. 

"I'm also very happy for the club, we are confirming a group of players that have become mature, it's important."

Asked specifically about the club's talks with Leao and Giroud, Pioli replied: "I hope more good news arrives. I hope so."

Didier Deschamps thanked fans after France landed back in Paris following their "cruel" World Cup final defeat to Argentina on Sunday.

Les Bleus were looking to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, but they were beaten 4-2 on penalties by Argentina after an enthralling 3-3 draw.

Kylian Mbappe's hat-trick helped France recover from 2-0 and then 3-2 down, but Aurelien Tchoumeni and Kingsley Coman failed to convert in the shoot-out as Deschamps' men fell to a heartbreaking defeat.

Nevertheless, the team were greeted by a mass crowd as they returned to Paris on Monday, and Deschamps expressed his appreciation for the support after such a crushing loss.

"It is our duty with the players to thank all these French men and women who supported us and gave a lot of strength to this France group," he told TF1. "We shared fabulous emotions even if the ending is cruel and hurts.

"We must not forget all that this group did while having a lot of difficulties before and during the World Cup. They experienced fabulous emotions during this month of competition."

Captain Hugo Lloris echoed his head coach's sentiments after missing out on becoming the first man to skipper his team to two World Cup trophies.

"After the pain of yesterday, [the reception is] a little comfort," Lloris said. "The most important thing is the recognition of the supporters, even if as an athlete we would have liked to have this gold medal and bring the cup back to France."

France now turn their attentions to the 2024 European Championship in Germany, where they will be looking to win the tournament for a third time.

Lloris compelled his team to carry their strong mentality from Qatar into their next competition, adding: "Despite what happened before and during the tournament, we showed resilience, we remained a group. We have to keep that going for the Euros."

Striker Olivier Giroud, who surpassed Thierry Henry as France's all-time record goalscorer in Qatar, added: "We're going to give each other a big hug and go on vacation to recharge our batteries, because there is a season to finish.

"It is always difficult to leave a group with which we spent a month and a half. We are like a family, like brothers."

France became the first team ever to fail to have a shot during the first half of a World Cup final, forcing Didier Deschamps into a historic double change with Argentina 2-0 up.

Deschamps became the first boss to make two substitutions before half-time in a World Cup match, with the reigning champions on the ropes and failing to have a solitary attempt on goal.

Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud were hauled off after just 41 minutes, with France having a mountain to climb after a Lionel Messi penalty and a wonderfully worked Angel Di Maria strike.

Dembele was at fault for Argentina's opener, bringing down Di Maria in the France area before Messi coolly slotted home his sixth goal of the tournament, and Di Maria added a second shortly after.

With France well off the pace, Deschamps was forced into drastic measures as he replaced Dembele and Giroud with Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram.

Deschamps' decision to take off Giroud will be a big talking point, after the France head coach declined to bring back Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema for the final.

Benzema was ruled out of Qatar 2022 with a thigh injury, but there had been suggestions the Real Madrid striker could link back up with the squad for the final on Sunday.

But Deschamps did not call upon Benzema, who posted an ambiguous message on social media in the following days that was translated as "I'm not interested".

Deschamps chose to start Giroud despite the Milan man struggling with an injury in the days prior to the final.

Giroud was clearly unhappy at being substituted, throwing a water bottle on the sidelines with Les Bleus' status as world champions under serious threat.

Milan "have to be a little more ambitious" and aim to win more than just the Serie A title, according to director and club legend Paolo Maldini.

The Rossoneri won the Scudetto last season for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign after beating Sassuolo 3-0 on the final day, wrestling the trophy back from city rivals Inter.

Milan's attempts to lift the Serie A trophy for a second straight season have seen them win 10 of their opening 15 matches.

Yet despite sitting second in the table, leaders Napoli are yet to lose a game and already hold an eight-point lead over Stefano Pioli's men.

Milan have fared well in Europe, though, making it into the Champions League knockout stages for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Maldini, who won seven Serie A titles and five Champions League trophies with the Rossoneri as a player, feels they should be looking for continental success to add to their domestic triumph of last term.

Maldini told MilanTV: "The match played in Sassuolo [to clinch the title on the final day] ended a three-year period that started in 2019 with a very specific project, which did not envisage the victory of the Scudetto, but envisaged the return to be competitive.

"Of course, we're talking about Milan, and we can't be satisfied with having won a Scudetto, we have to be a little more ambitious.

"We can and must be protagonists in the four competitions that remain to us, because little by little, they will be very intense months."

The World Cup has seen several Milan players undertake a starring role for their national teams in Qatar. France duo Theo Hernandez and Olivier Giroud are set to play in Sunday's final against Argentina.

Hernandez scored in the semi-final victory over Morocco and Giroud has become Les Bleus' all-time leading marksman, while winger Rafael Leao also netted twice for Portugal.

"Rafa [Leao] did his part," Maldini added. "Two goals in a World Cup is no small thing. Unfortunately, he didn't play much, but I think it was still a good and high-level experience for him. 

"Olivier and Theo have been stars since the beginning. I must say that we are proud to see them in the starting line-up having reached the final of a World Cup."

Milan return to competitive action on January 4, when they take on Salernitana in Serie A.

Theo Hernandez defiantly stated Lionel Messi does not scare France, while Olivier Giroud is intent on denying the Argentina legend a dream World Cup swansong in Sunday's final.

Les Bleus are on the cusp of defending the title they won in Russia four years ago after a workmanlike 2-0 victory over Morocco in Wednesday's second semi-final.

The showpiece fixture will be Messi's final World Cup game and, at least for the football romantics, would be seen as a fitting send-off for one of the all-time greats.

But France will have little time for sentiment as they aim to be crowned world champions for the third time and Milan full-back Hernandez said Les Bleus are not fearful of Argentina's talisman – who was star of the show in La Albiceleste's own last-four triumph over Croatia.

"Now we must think about the final, I am tired but it's so good to win a World Cup semi-final," Hernandez said in quotes reported by Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Now we must recover for Sunday, we are not scared of Messi, but Argentina are an incredible team and we have a few days to work."

Giroud, who during the tournament has become France's all-time leading goalscorer, was part of the side that defeated Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16 at Russia 2018.

In that game, N'Golo Kante – missing in Qatar through injury – was tasked with a man-marking job on Messi, whose five goals at this tournament are matched only by Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe.

Giroud gave little away as to whether a similar tactic will be employed but said the whole collective will do their part to deny Messi the biggest prize of his illustrious career.

"Messi is an incredible player, but we are not going to let him enjoy the best night he can have," he said.

"We want to win this game. We want to win another World Cup – and we will try everything to stop him. 

"But there is not only Messi in that team. They have got great players who work for the team also. I think that is why they are so strong.

"I don't know if we need a special plan. I remember back in the days of 2018, N'Golo was all the game on his back, behind him. But this time I don't know what will be the plan. We will see with the manager."

Karim Benzema sent his support to France ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Morocco on Wednesday, telling Les Bleus they are "almost there".

Looking to defend the trophy they lifted in Russia in 2018, France reached the final four by seeing off England in a 2-1 quarter-final victory on Saturday.

Didier Deschamps' team will now face fairytale side Morocco, the first African side to ever reach a World Cup semi-final. France are bidding to win international football's top prize for a second consecutive time.

Ballon d'Or winner Benzema was expected to lead the line for France in Qatar, but a thigh injury ruled the Real Madrid frontman out of the competition.

In his place, Milan striker Olivier Giroud has scored four goals in four games, including the winner against England.

Benzema, who has returned to training with his club, posted on social media to encourage his France team-mates.

He wrote in an Instagram post: "Come on boys. Two more games we're almost there... I'm behind you... Let's go."

Olivier Giroud compared France's tense 2022 World Cup quarter-final win over England to their semi-final victory against Belgium four years ago.

France scraped past the Three Lions 2-1 at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, with Giroud's deflected header ultimately the difference.

Aurelien Tchouameni had fired the world champions ahead, but England responded strongly and levelled through a Harry Kane penalty.

Gareth Southgate's side might have equalised a second time following Giroud's goal, only for Kane to fire a second spot-kick over the crossbar.

Victory sends France through to a semi-final against surprise package Morocco, with Didier Deschamps' side looking like favourites to retain their crown.

But this tie showed how hard it is to win the World Cup, with Giroud reminded of a 1-0 defeat of Belgium in Russia.

"The match tonight reminded of the match against Belgium in 2018," Giroud told a news conference. "We fought tooth and nail.

"They came back into the match, started to believe, but we showed we could be dangerous on the counter-attack.

"We were a bit lucky because Kane misses the penalty, but we gave our all and fought tooth and nail. It reminds me of the mentality of 2018. This group deserves to get there."

Giroud had equalled and then passed Thierry Henry's France goals record earlier in the finals.

"All goals are important," he added. "The fact is I went ahead of Thierry Henry with the 52nd, but this 53rd is perhaps even better.

"A minute before, I had a chance and I could have scored. I thought I might get another chance, and it was unbelievable to score."

Football goes through phases and cycles where certain trends dictate the sport, whether that's specific formations and systems, or particular player styles.

The World Cup quarter-final between France and England will highlight one such feature of the modern game: the evolution of the striker.

What makes this clash so intriguing in that respect is the presence of three forwards who each represent a different era, with Olivier Giroud, Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe likely to attract much of the pre-match focus.

And what's more, there's a strong possibility the game will be decided – or influenced at the very least – by this trio.

Giroud – The throwback

For years the narrative around Giroud has been the suggestion he's "underrated". That discussion has been exhausted to the extent we should all now agree he is simply "rated".

That shouldn't detract from how he's polarised opinion for much of his career, but for the most part this comes down to personal preferences about what a striker should offer or be.

Arsene Wenger, the man who signed Giroud for Arsenal, said it best in 2014 after the striker scored a powerful header in a 4-1 win over Newcastle United: "He is like an English [-style] centre-forward. His first goal he scored was a typical 1970s goal. You saw those headers in the seventies and eighties. You love it because you see it less now."

Fast-forward eight years and Giroud is now France's all-time leading scorer after usurping another former Arsenal star in Thierry Henry.

But as Wenger alluded to, he's almost part of a dying breed.

 

Since the start of Giroud's breakout season in 2011-12 when he led Montpellier to the Ligue 1 title, only five players have scored more headed goals than him (34) across the top five leagues – that accounts for 28.3 per cent of his non-penalty goals.

While 27 players (minimum 40 goals total) in that time have scored a greater proportion of their non-penalty goals with headers, only one of those – Anthony Modeste (61) – has also netted more than 50 non-headers. Giroud has 86.

This speaks to Giroud's quality as not only a seventies throwback who'll get his head on almost anything, but just generally a reliable penalty-box striker, with his exploits in Qatar a rather succinct summary.

All three of his goals have been scored in the area, and one of those – his second against Australia – was a towering header.

 

Let's not forget, he was maligned at Russia 2018 because some deemed him to not be a scoring threat. Granted, he ended the tournament with no goals, yet he was a regular throughout the champions' run because of the physical presence he brought working as a kind of attacking pivot.

Four years on, despite looking a likely exclusion this time around, he's thriving in the absence of Karim Benzema.

'Classic' number nines like Giroud aren't particularly fashionable these days. How many of the best developing forwards under the age of 25 come under this umbrella? Not many.

But Giroud proves this sub-genre of striker retains relevancy even if the production line is drying up.

Kane – The playmaker

Kane does share certain strengths with Giroud – after all, he is one of those five strikers to score more headers (35 to 34) in the top five leagues than Giroud over aforementioned period.

But it's fair to say he's a more rounded, refined striker, which of course tallies with the idea of he and Giroud being of different eras in essence.

Jose Mourinho may not have been hugely popular as Tottenham coach, but to his credit, he clearly played a part in Kane redefining himself somewhat.

 

In November 2020, Kane said: "I think [Mourinho] saw in my game that I like to drop deep so he made it clear to the others that if I do drop deep then they need to be the ones running in behind. I think that's been the real difference. It's allowed me to create space and get the ball but have an option going forward as well. But I think obviously I've still been playing as a nine as well, and I think that's the beauty of what's been working well."

Since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino 12 months prior to those comments, Kane has averaged 0.24 assists per 90 minutes in the Premier League, double the frequency he had under the Argentinian.

His other creative metrics haven't improved quite as dramatically, with key passes only up from 1.2 to 1.4, for instance. However, his expected assists increase (0.08 per 90, to 0.13 p90) highlights how Kane's general creativity carries greater threat now. Sure, it would seem he's benefiting from good finishing by team-mates, but his playmaking influence has demonstrably grown.

Since the start of the 2019-20 season, only Mohamed Salah (747), Bruno Fernandes (641) and Jack Grealish (588) have been involved in more shot-ending sequences in the Premier League than Kane (585), with 289 of those not ending with him having the shot – no out-and-out striker has been more involved in build-up play than Kane.

 

He's translated that to the World Cup as well. Twelve Opta-defined "strikers" can better his 11 open-play shot-ending sequence involvements, but among them are the likes of Lionel Messi, Memphis Depay and Thomas Muller; players not always picked to lead the line.

No forwards have recorded more involvements in goal-ending sequences than Kane (four), however, with the Spurs star becoming the first England player since David Beckham in 2002 to have three assists at a single World Cup.

 

Another Golden Boot success might not be on the cards, but you could argue Kane is more integral to England than ever before.

Mbappe – The wide forward

While Kane and Giroud might almost be deemed old-fashioned in some regards, Mbappe represents the archetypal modern forward – and he's essentially the perfect embodiment.

While it's not just 'emerging' players who qualify here, there certainly appears to be a greater concentration of them among a particular age group. So many have similar key characteristics in that they're generally quick, good on the ball and often prefer to play off one of the flanks.

The 'wide forward' role is very much in vogue.

 

What makes this particularly interesting in relation to Mbappe is that his playing role was apparently a major contributing factor in his reported unhappiness at PSG earlier this season.

While he didn't explicitly confirm that, he outlined what was different between representing France and PSG, where Christophe Galtier has this season often used him as a central striker.

"I play differently for France. I am asked other things [with the national team] compared to my club," he said in September. "I have a lot more freedom here. The coach knows there is a number nine in the side like Olivier [Giroud] who can occupy defences while I walk around and go into space. In Paris, it's different – you don't have that. I am asked to play as a pivot, which is different."

 

That said, Mbappe's still been able to tally the seventh-most carries (259) across the top five leagues this term, and his total carry progress of 1,562.2 metres is bettered by only Gerard Deulofeu among wingers and forwards, highlighting the fact the France talisman continues to play a vital role in getting PSG up the pitch and on the front foot.

It's a similar story at the World Cup, with his 70 carries fourth behind Lionel Messi (104), Christian Pulisic and Jamal Musiala (both 75) among forwards and wingers.

Clearly, Mbappe's good enough to play either as wide forward or central striker and still thrive. But, as he said in September, it's the freedom offered by the former role that he appears to value, and it certainly doesn't seem to have diminished his effectiveness massively in the box given he's had a hand in seven goals – three more than anyone else – and leads the scoring charts with five.

 

Understandably, he'll be the one to watch on Saturday. But as Giroud and Kane have already shown at this tournament, you don't have to be explosive to be decisive.

France's all-time top goalscorer Olivier Giroud is the most complete striker at the World Cup, according to Les Bleus legend David Trezeguet.

Giroud surpassed Thierry Henry's tally of 51 France goals as Didier Deschamps' men beat Poland in the last 16 in Qatar, teeing up Saturday's quarter-final clash with England.

The 36-year-old Milan striker has scored three goals at the tournament. Only one player has ever scored more goals at a single World Cup when aged 36 or older – Roger Milla in 1990 (four).  

Speaking to RMC Sport ahead of France's meeting with the Three Lions, Trezeguet – who sits sixth in his country's scoring charts with 34 goals – said there was a lack of genuine strikers on display in Qatar.

"Olivier Giroud is the centre-forward as in my time. There really aren't any more," he said.

"Germany have suffered a lot without a centre-forward, the Netherlands and others have a clear idea without a centre-forward. 

"It is difficult to explain. We saw Spain, who lacked efficiency, either there was [Alvaro] Morata or there was nothing. 

"There is beauty, the technical side but you have to finish the job and Giroud seems to me to be the most complete in this competition."

 

Meanwhile, Trezeguet is confident France can become the first nation to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, hailing Deschamps' management of the side.

"The French team has a clear idea, it is going very well with Giroud doing an exceptional job up front, [Adrien] Rabiot at a very high level, [Theo] Hernandez has been a huge solution," he said.

"There are details, but I think it's the most complete team. Deschamps has always been clear, the team plays on his qualities."

However, the 1998 World Cup winner knows England will offer a stern challenge in the last eight, as he lauded their development under Gareth Southgate.

"Gareth Southgate, I had the chance to know him at FIFA level. He is not a classic English coach, he is much more disciplined on the tactical side," he said.

"Over time this team has progressed. This team has everything to compete with the France team."

Kyle Walker will not "roll out a red carpet" for Kylian Mbappe as England prepare to face France in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

Mbappe is the tournament's top scorer so far with five goals in four matches, including a double in the reigning champions' 3-1 victory over Poland in the round of 16.

That win set up a clash in the final eight with England, giving Three Lions' manager Gareth Southgate a headache on how to best counter the threat of Mbappe.

Walker is the player many believe will be chosen to deal with the power and pace of Mbappe, with the possibility that Southgate will opt to play with a back five.

While Walker lauded Mbappe's talents, the Manchester City defender feels he is well-equipped to cope with the Paris Saint-Germain star.

"Of course I understand the focus and I understand what I need to do to stop him," Walker told reporters. "It's easier said than done but I don't underestimate myself.

"I've come up against some of the best players in the world but I have to treat it just as another game. You have to give him respect but not too much.

"I'm not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to score. It's a World Cup, it's do or die.

"I'm not going home so I'm not going to let him ruin that for my family."

Other France forwards have impressed alongside Mbappe, such as Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud, the latter of whom became Les Bleus' all-time record goalscorer with his strike against Poland, with Walker stressing the focus is not just on the PSG forward.

Walker says it is important England pay due attention to all of France's attackers, and not just Mbappe, adding: "It will be a tough game but a team cannot just be about one person.

"When we've [City] played Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, we're not just thinking of Mbappe and it's the same on Saturday. 

"He's a tool in their armoury - and a very good one - but you can't underestimate their other players.

"We know he's a great player and that's why he's the focus of all questions. But let's not forget Olivier Giroud who has scored lots of goals, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.

"For me all the questions shouldn't be about him [Mbappe]. I appreciate he's a great footballer, but there are others too."

At 32-years-old, Walker is one of the older members of England's squad, with young stars such as Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham playing a starring role in England's campaign so far.

Walker commended the Three Lions' new generation, reserving particular praise for Bellingham, who has lit up the tournament with his sparkling midfield displays at just 19-years-old.

"It is great for the English game," Walker declared. "As you mentioned, Jude [Bellingham] being one who has the courage to play for England that others didn't have when they were younger.

"They have no fear and they go in and express themselves. I feel the standard of players has gone up another level in this tournament."

Oliver Giroud hopes his "natural and spontaneous" relationship with Kylian Mbappe will transmit "enthusiasm" throughout the France side ahead of their World Cup quarter-final showdown with England.

Mbappe is the leading scorer at this year's finals with five goals, including a brace in Les Bleus' last-16 victory over Poland, while he has also assisted two of Giroud's three strikes in Qatar.

That included a precise throughball for the Milan forward to net his record-breaking 52nd international goal against the Poles, moving him ahead of Thierry Henry on France's all-time scoring list.

"My relationship with Mbappe is very good and, for me, it always has been," the 36-year-old said.

"It's natural and spontaneous. High-level sport brings magical moments to life and it is this enthusiasm that we want to convey in this team."

 

Reigning champions France are now just three victories away from becoming the third nation to successfully defend their World Cup crown, and first since Brazil in 1962.

Giroud says Didier Deschamps' side believe they can achieve the feat, but he is wary of the challenge to be posed by the Three Lions, who have scored 12 goals in their four matches so far.

"We are confident, but there are still three games to win," he added. "We know it would be huge for history to do it, but we're just focused on the game against England.

"The profiles of the players on the wide areas are those who are fast, tackle and take up spaces. They are also dangerous on set-pieces, with size.

"There are amazing players in all areas of the game. We will have to be vigilant in defence, but so will they."

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