Anthony Martial should be a starter for France.

Anthony Martial should be France's main striker at Euro 2016

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For a second straight match against comparatively weaker defensive opposition, France have relied on top stars Dimitri Payet, and now Antoine Griezmann, to spare their attacking blushes.

This lack of ruthlessness up top seems already a potential weakness for their long-term aims of winning the tournament. Better opposition would have already taken their chances and had the game won before the now usual 90th minute French rescue act.

A key culprit of their profligacy in front of goal is unsurprisingly their new main striker Olivier Giroud.


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Until December 2015, Karim Benzema was the focal point of the French forward line. During the next few months Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac had been sharing duties until, in the lead up to the tournament, Giroud finally took over full time as lead striker.

This was the same Giroud who had just six goals in his last 21 Premier League games for Arsenal. He had also experienced an exile to the bench for almost two months at the end of February to late April, being dropped for the returning Danny Welbeck. His season tally of 16 in 38 appearances was a Premier League high for him, equalling his total in 2013-14.

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Anthony Martial, 20, coming off a fine debut season essentially playing left-wing for Manchester United, had seven goals in his last 21 Premier League games, with a season tally of 11 in 31 games.

It is well documented that United struggled going forward this season, despite Martial’s often one-man shows out wide. His team hindered what could have been an even more brilliant opening campaign, this was despite the fact he had barely been given the chance to play through the middle.

To put Martial's debut season into context, Giroud scored 11 in 34 during his first campaign in England back in 2012-13, aged 26, as a lone striker. Martial has also come off the back of securing an FA Cup, with a sensational late winner in the semi-final.

France v Albania - Group A: UEFA Euro 2016

Didier Deschamps typically has gone for the conservative option and played the ageing, and never ruthlessly clinical, Giroud upfront, instead of potentially one of the next world-class stars of football.

Giroud also played at Euro 2012 and the World Cup 2014, albeit a lesser role, scoring just one goal across both tournaments.

At Euro 2016, Giroud did score the first goal in the opening game against Romania, however, in that game, Giroud missed three goal scoring opportunities before finally converting, admittedly aided by some very weak and indecisive goalkeeping by Ciprian Tatarusanu.

He played the full 90 and did not have another shot or header on goal after he netted on 57 minutes. In the second game, against Albania, Giroud played 77 minutes where he had five goal scoring chances, all headers, but failed to convert any.

France v Albania - Group A: UEFA Euro 2016

In total, Giroud has one goal in nine goal attempts playing centrally for France in 167 minutes at Euro 2016. Six of those nine attempts have been headers inside the box that have missed the target completely.

On the other hand, Martial has had 65 minutes of action, mostly on the left-wing, including a late substitute appearance in the opening game and just 45 minutes of the second. He has had three shots, all on target, including a saved shot from the goalkeeper in just over an hour of game-time.

Martial has had as many accurate attempts on goal as Giroud, despite having less than 100 minutes or so of action, all from the left-wing.

He is also vastly superior in speed and does not need for France to play crosses from out wide or set pieces to fashion a chance on goal.

France v Albania - Group A: UEFA Euro 2016

His key attributes can enable France to play counter attacking football at speed and decisively in behind and along the floor, rather than just the countless crosses fired into the box from open play that Giroud has been unable to score from so far.

If given the rightful chance to play upfront through the middle, Martial has the potential to be the Thierry Henry of Euro 2000, along with three Zinedine Zidane-esque stars in Paul Pogba, and the aforementioned Griezmann and Payet providing the service.

If France can get these fabulous four in tandem, glory potentially awaits them.

Should Didier Deschamps drop Olivier Giroud for Anthony Martial? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Paul Pogba
Manchester United
Euro 2016
Premier League

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