Entire France Squad Trains On Eve Of World Cup Final Despite Virus

France Kylian Mbappe at a training session.© AFP

The whole France squad attended a training session on the eve of Sunday’s World Cup final against Argentina after a virus sidelined a number of players this week. Coach Didier Deschamps said earlier Saturday the team were taking action to stop the spread of illness, which has affected a number of players. Central defensive pair Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate missed training on Friday, along with winger Kingsley Coman, while midfielder Adrien Rabiot and defender Dayot Upamecano did not play in Wednesday’s semi-final win over Morocco.

However, all 24 members of the France squad were present at the start of their training session in Doha on Saturday evening. Deschamps told his pre-match press conference that the France camp were “trying to take as many precautions as possible”.

“Obviously it would be better if this wasn’t happening but we are handling it as well as possible with our medical staff,” he said.

Deschamps and his captain Hugo Lloris both insisted they could not offer any health updates before the team trained at the home stadium of Qatari champions Al Sadd. “I am fine. As for the players, I left quite early this morning so they were all sleeping,” added Deschamps as he spoke to reporters at 11:30 am local time. “We are trying to handle the situation as well as possible and remain calm and focused.

“I’ll get some more information later today and think about that tonight and maybe tomorrow. And of course we’re looking forward to being ready for this important game.”

Players, staff and other sources close to the squad have spoken of a range of symptoms affecting the team in recent days, including fever, stomach pain and headaches.

Measures have been taken at the team’s hotel, including isolating certain players, but Covid-19 testing is no longer imposed by world governing body FIFA. France are aiming to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend the World Cup. They are facing an Argentina side determined to win the trophy in what is likely to be Lionel Messi‘s last-ever match at the tournament.

“We are never really prepared for this type of thing but we are trying to prepare in the best way possible,” Lloris said of the illness worries. “We remain focused and of course we’re very excited about playing in a World Cup final.”

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