'Sorry Thibaut' – Giroud favours Lloris over Chelsea team-mate Courtois

Despite his best diplomatic efforts, the forward made clear his loyalty to his international team-mate over his club’s goalkeeper.

Olivier Giroud put country before club by describing France captain Hugo Lloris as a better goalkeeper than Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea striker Giroud will attempt to shatter the World Cup dreams of his club team-mate when their two nations meet in a blockbuster semi-final in St Petersburg on Tuesday.

Both shot-stoppers enter the match in fine form, Courtois starring in Belgium’s 2-1 quarter-final upset of Brazil while Lloris produced a stunning stop to help preserve a clean sheet in France’s defeat of Uruguay.

Giroud, who is yet to open his account at this year’s World Cup, acknowledged the physical differences between the pair but joked they do have one thing in common.

“They have the same right foot,” he told reporters on Sunday. “They don’t use it much.

“Thibaut has an impressive wingspan. It’s hard to beat him on the sides. He can stop balls in any area.

“I have scored a few goals against him in training with Chelsea and I hope I can do it on Tuesday.

“They’re both great keepers. And they both deserve to be elected as best keeper of the tournament, even if I have a preference for Hugo.

“The best is Hugo. Sorry Thibaut.”

Courtois boasts two clean sheets from five matches in Russia while Lloris has two in four.

France defender Benjamin Pavard also hailed Lloris’ for his World Cup showings. 

Lloris arrived at the World Cup a man under scrutiny following errors in France’s warm-up matches and a number of poor performances for Tottenham across the course of the 2017-18 season.

But he has been a standout for France this summer, and Pavard says the captain has led by example, telling reporters: “He is really an exceptional goalkeeper. He has had a great career, he’s our captain.

“He is a leader, on and off the field. He gave an outstanding performance [against Uruguay].”

The match will be Lloris’ 103rd appearance for France and Pavard has no doubts about the man playing behind him.

“We never had doubts about him – you [media] doubted him,” said the full-back.

“We, we trust him. He proves to everyone that he is a great goalkeeper.”