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France battling to contain virus on eve of World Cup final

Several members of the French squad have fallen ill in recent days

France boss Didier Deschamps says his team are taking “as many precautions as possible” to ensure that a virus spreading through the squad doesn’t impact their preparations ahead of Sunday’s FIFA World Cup final against Argentina.

Several players from within the French ranks have come down with the mystery illness, with defensive duo Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate unable to take part in training on Friday, along with Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele.

This followed Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano both missing Wednesday’s semifinal win against Morocco due to the illness – with the former confined to his hotel room as a precaution.

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France, who are attempting to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to retain the World Cup, have reported that players are suffering from a range of symptoms which include fever, stomach issues and headaches.

Players from Brazil had reported similar complaints earlier in the tournament, with Deschamps previously claiming that air conditioning within the various stadiums are providing an ideal environment for a virus to thrive.

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 on Saturday.

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

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.”

However, recent reports have been positive for France with the entire squad well enough to train on Saturday afternoon ahead of the final – news which will be a boost to Les Bleus given their reduced ranks, with Aurelien Tchouameni and Theo Hernandez having also missed Friday’s session.

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France were already ravaged by injuries in advance of the tournament, with the likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku ruled out before a ball was kicked in Qatar.

Ahead of their bid to lift the famous trophy for a second World Cup in succession, France skipper Hugo Lloris said there was no way to safeguard against sickness hitting the camp and that it is his and his teammates’ job to dismiss issues outside of their control.

We are never really prepared for this type of thing but we are trying to prepare in the best way possible,” the Tottenham man said.

We remain focused and of course we’re very excited about playing in a World Cup final.”

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December 17, 2022 at 10:05PM
RT

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