If you only ever watched a highlight reel of Olivier Giroud’s best goals, you’d think he’s the greatest footballer of all time. He’s not, of course, but he is a fantastic striker who continues to confound his dwindling band of critics. In Bucharest last night, he scored a brilliant overhead kick to give Chelsea a huge advantage in their last-16 Champions League tie against Atletico.
Atletico were shockingly bad, mind. Like, no-shots-on-target bad – not one. They were missing several key players through injury, but still, even when they went 1-0 down, they showed almost no ambition to get an equaliser, and as usual set up not to lose rather than go for the win. Diego Simeone’s team probably suffered with a lack of home crowd (and venue) but this was as comfortable a 1-0 win as you are ever likely to watch.
2 – Thomas Tuchel has conceded just two goals in eight games as Chelsea manager; in the club's history, the only coach to concede fewer goals after eight games in charge is José Mourinho (one). Masterclass. pic.twitter.com/fkvHRIwEfT
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 23, 2021
Chelsea have now gone eight matches unbeaten since Thomas Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard as head coach (Tuchel’s acumen is really making Lampard look bad), while Giroud is emerging as their talisman in Europe after scoring all four goals in the group match against Sevilla and a last-minute winner away to Rennes – it always strikes me how happy his team-mates are when he scores. He seems to be a genuinely popular man wherever he’s played.
Tuchel was also quick to praise Giroud’s impact, saying: “If you see him on a daily basis, you cannot be surprised. He is totally fit, his body is in shape and his physicality is on top level.
“He trains like a 20-year-old, like a 24-year-old. He is a guy who has a good mixture of serious and joy in training. He is always positive and it is a big factor for the group.”
Man of the match: Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)