France sweat over players’ fitness ahead of World Cup final

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  • Post published:December 18, 2022

France coach Didier Deschamps is sweating over the fitness of several key players as his team battled a mystery virus ahead of the World Cup final against Argentina.

The match was set 24 hours after Croatia’s 2-1 victory over Morocco in the third-place match.

The defending champions, France, are struggling to contain a viral outbreak that has reportedly affected five players as they prepare to face Lionel Messi and Argentina at Doha’s Lusail Stadium.

Center backs Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate, as well as winger Kingsley Coman, were the most recent players to fall ill and miss Friday’s practice.

The two players, Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano, were ruled out of Wednesday’s semi-final victory over Morocco, so this news came two days later.

Fever, stomach pain, and headaches are just some of the symptoms that have been plaguing the French team in recent days, according to players, staff, and sources close to the squad.

“We are trying to take as many precautions as possible, to adapt as necessary and get on with it,” Deschamps said at a press conference.

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

The news from the French camp improved later on Saturday after all 24 members of Deschamps’ squad started a final team training session on the field.

Since the media was only allowed to observe the first 15 minutes of the session, it is unclear if all players participated fully.

A virus scare could derail France’s hopes of becoming the first team to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil in 1962.

Croatia, who lost to Argentina in the semifinals, proved their worth by beating Morocco in a thrilling third-place match on Saturday, won by a goal from Mislav Orsic.

One of the tournament’s brightest lights, Josko Gvardiol, put Croatia ahead with a header in the seventh minute at the Khalifa International Stadium, but Morocco quickly responded with a goal from Achraf Dari.

A fantastic curling shot by Orsic in the first half helped seal second place for the 2018 squad. For the eleventh straight World Cup, a European team (Croatia) has claimed the bronze medal.

“It’s a bronze medal but for us it’s like a gold medal,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said.

Walid Regragui, coach of the Morocco team that became the first African team to reach the World Cup semifinals, has predicted that a team from Africa will win the tournament within the next “15-20 years.”

With an increase from 32 to 48 teams, Africa will have nine qualifying spots for the 2022 World Cup.

“With nine participants, we’re going to learn. In 15, 20 years, I’m sure an African team will win the World Cup because we’ll have learned,” said Regragui.