Varane, Konaté and Coman train separately when the virus hits the final plan of the World Cup in France | France
Kingsley Coman, Ibrahima Konaté and Raphaël Varane trained away from the rest of the France squad as the defending champions tried to deal with a virus that disrupted their preparations for Sunday’s match. World Cup Final against Argentina.
France, which was without Coman, Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot due to illness during their semi-final win over Moroccohave implemented hygiene measures in an attempt to ensure that more players do not get sick.
In a situation that brought back unpleasant memories of the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the conversation during Friday’s press conference focused more on social distancing and handwashing than the prospect of facing Lionel Messi.
It’s not how Didier Deschamps would have wanted to prepare for the challenge of trying to stop Messi from winning the World Cup for the first time. Upamecano and Rabiot have rejoined the main group, but Coman, Konaté and Varane were struggling and were forced to train indoors on Friday. Midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni and left-back Theo Hernández also trained indoors for their respective hip and knee problems.
If Konaté and Varane are out of shape, Deschamps would be without two of his three main centre-backs. The duo played well together against Morocco. If Upamecano, who teamed up with Varane during the quarter-final win over Englandcould be joined in central defense by Arsenal’s William Saliba, whose only appearance so far was as a substitute in The defeat of France against Tunisia in their last group match.
But Deschamps won’t just be worried about his defensive situation. France they are trying to contain the virus, but the fear is that more players could get sick. That would present Deschamps and a pre-tournament injury roster of N’Golo Kanté, Christopher Nkunku, Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema in huge trouble. Lucas Hernandez is definitely out of shape. Suggestions that Benzema, who has recovered from a thigh injury, could fly to Qatar and play, as he was never replaced in the squad, remain unconfirmed.
It would be a drastic measure for Deschamps to turn to Benzema. France have managed without the Real Madrid striker, with Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann excelling in attack. For now, his focus is making sure everyone is healthy in time for the final.
“We are not afraid of this virus,” said Ousmane Dembélé. “Dayot and Adrien had a headache, a bit of a stomach ache. I made them ginger and honey tea, and then they felt better. I hope everyone is ready for the final.”
There have been theories that the virus, which has caused flu symptoms, was caught during the England match. England midfielder Declan Rice missed a day of training due to illness last week.
However, there is nothing to prove that theory, and another possible explanation is that France has been the victim of something that has affected many visitors from Qatar during the World Cup. There have been many complaints that air conditioning in stadiums, hotels and media centers has been the cause of sore throats and coughs.
Dembélé, who played with Messi at Barcelona, said France were ready to thwart the Argentine captain’s dream. “Messi is a dream to play with,” he said. “In the locker room he is very modest, he helps the youngest and he taught me a lot. It is difficult to play against him, but we will do our best.
“We fight for our country, for all the French people. We want the French to be proud of us. It would be great if Lionel won, but we want to win too.”