Bierhoff praises impact of Giroud and explains why Italian football ‘helps him’

By Oliver Fisher -

Former AC Milan striker Oliver Bierhoff has heaped praise on current Rossoneri centre-forward Olivier Giroud, insisting he is just what the club need.

Bierhoff was 31 years old when he won the Scudetto with a 33-year-old George Weah back in 1998-99 as the duo proved that having a pair of ageing strikers can indeed result in success, with Milan hoping to prove the same this season as Zlatan Ibrahimovic (40) and Giroud (35) aim to win a first league title in 11 years.

Ibrahimovic has 8 goals despite only having 15 appearances so far this season while Giroud is now up to 10 goals with all of them having been scored at San Siro. Milan are top of the standings and there are 12 games remaining – albeit with Inter having a game in hand – so the race for the Scudetto is on.

La Gazzetta dello Sport caught up with Bierhoff to get his thoughts on the current side and how it compares with his team of 24 years ago.

“The central strikers, as also happens in basketball, are now much more mobile, more agile, see Ibra, they have a different physical quality,” he said.

Why are the real No.9s back in fashion, like you were?

“Already a few years ago, with our coaches in the academies we were wondering what would come after the tiki taka, Guardiola-style football. Already in the leagues, in the Champions League, we could see that we were returning to play again with crosses and trying to overcoming the difficulties in proposing the combination game against the teams that defend low,” he said.

“Then there is the need for the centre-forward, which gives you weight, the possibility of working with crosses and with some action in the central area to put the defences in difficulty.”

Why is it difficult to find old fashioned strikers among younger players?

“We too in the national team are missing such a figure, we have lost the moment to make them grow because we have focused everything on technique, on the game, and it takes some time. The real nine is an important player in every team.”

Giroud, signed as Ibrahimovic’s back-up, has had a big impact on the team’s performance. Did you expect him to be successful in Italy?

“Yes, because he is a player with great experience, with quality in the area, he knows how to move, he scores. Italian football helps him: it is more tactical and more organised but slower than in England or France, where you need more physical freshness and speed.

“I too took advantage of it, I admit it: I am convinced that I would not have done as well in England or in Germany. Other spaces, other movements develop. Your [Italian] football loves the ‘system’, let’s call it that.”

The Frenchman’s two goals in the derby have reopened the title race. Feelings?

“It was a signal. Then scoring in a derby is wonderful, it awakened this fight, which is now very uncertain for the Scudetto.”

To what extent does experience help?

“It serves to keep calm, to know how to manage the matches, but as long as there is a great desire and determination. Surely as a young player you are more aggressive but you are more emotional, especially as a striker.

“If you hold up physically and you want to do well at the team service, age helps you a lot, also because you have already experienced certain moments, especially in important matches such as derbies.”

Having two leaders like Ibra and Giroud in attack was a gamble: did your friend Maldini win it?

“Yes, congratulations on his choice. I am happy for Paolo that Milan are doing well. Times have changed: when I played there was a starter or a reserve player, almost fixed roles. Now, however, with all the commitments and matches there is space for everyone.”

Does the role of veteran in the dressing room, like Ibra, always work with the new generations of footballers?

“Yes, relationships are different, but more than age you need personality, to give something to the group. It is not easy to find players who have the experience or perhaps even the quality of leading a team.

“Today the boys are more individual, they are each for himself, that’s why the guys who bring the group together, and lead it in a certain direction are important. But it doesn’t work if you are old and you don’t perform certain performances, but you just try to defend your territory or to claim rights.”

Do you have a particular memory of the Milan derby?

“When I scored, in 2001, it ended 2-2. But you don’t remember the result of the derbies, but the atmosphere. Everything was beautiful, the turmoil of the stadium, the nerves before… this remains with me forever.”

Tags AC Milan Oliver Bierhoff Olivier Giroud

1 Comment

  1. Giroud will make a huge impact tonight ,make no mistake about that ..He is a real old fashioned centre forward who’s hold up play is second to none ..His awareness of others is a special gift ,that is a technique that he has learnt …Technically the man knows exactly where to be at the right time ..

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