LUSAIL [QATAR]: Defending champions France have been affected by a virus that could cause the team's starting centre-back duo to miss the World Cup final against Argentina on Sunday. Raphael Varane shows mild signs of the virus, and fellow defender Ibrahima Konate has not left his room since feeling ill as per ESPN.
Varane and Konate were two of five French players who did not report to training two days before the World Cup final versus Argentina. Dayot Upamecano, Adrien Rabiot, and Kingsley Coman were all sick at the start of the week and did not practice on Friday.
France coach Didier Deschamps claimed the team was taking measures to prevent the virus from spreading after Upamecano and Rabiot missed the semifinal win over Morocco.
"In Doha, temperatures have fallen a little bit, you have air conditioning which is on all the time. We've had a few cases of flu-like symptoms. We are trying to be careful so it doesn't spread, and players have made great efforts out on the pitch and obviously, their immune systems suffer," said the coach as quoted by ESPN.
Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano have now recovered, and Deschamps said they could feature against Argentina on Sunday. "Dayot will be fit. Since Saturday he wasn't well for three days ... had a fever, and that had an impact on his strength. Given the tough match we had, I decided not to play him and play Konate instead as he's shown he's good enough to play at this level. Rabiot was sick, was better this afternoon but not well enough, so he stayed in the hotel. We have four days to rest, so he should be better and available for Sunday," stated Didier.
It is France's latest blow after star players Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez, and Christopher Nkunku were ruled out of the tournament due to injuries.
During a press conference on Friday, Ousmane Dembele stated that the team was not concerned about the illness spreading to other players. "We're not scared of that virus. Dayot and Adrien got a bit of a stomach ache; I made them a ginger and honey tea and then they felt better. I hope everyone will be ready for the final. Dayot got better, and I think everyone will be ready. We've been taking precautions.
The first day, Dayot stayed in his room and we brought him food, and he was back with everyone the next day," said Dembele. Les Bleus are attempting to become the first side since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend the World Cup crown.