France wary of virus spread in squad before World Cup final

AL KHOR, Qatar — Didier Deschamps has revealed that France are taking precautions to stop the spread of a virus in the squad ahead of the World Cup final against Argentina.

Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot were unavailable for Wednesday’s 2-0 semi-final win over Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium after suffering from illness in recent days.

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Although Deschamps is hopeful both players can return to Sunday’s showpiece – where to Les Bleus could become the first team to successfully defend the trophy since Brazil in 1962 – he revealed the pair had initially been isolated from others.

Upamecano returned to training on Tuesday and was benched against Morocco while Rabiot was left at the team hotel. Sources told ESPN that he was told to stay in his room.

Kingsley Coman was also ‘feverish’ earlier in the day, according to Deschamps. Although the specific virus affecting the camp in France is still unclear, many visitors to Qatar are battling Middle East respiratory syndrome, which can cause a flu-like illness of varying degrees of severity.

“In Doha, the temperatures have dropped a bit, the air conditioning is on all the time,” said Deschamps.

“We’ve had a few cases of flu-like symptoms. We’re trying to be careful not to spread it and the players have been making a lot of effort on the pitch and obviously their immune systems are suffering.

“Dayot Upamecano felt sick immediately after the game [against England]. Exerting yourself like this weakens your body and makes you more susceptible to infection with these viruses.

“We are taking all the necessary precautions, we are trying to make sure it doesn’t spread, but viruses are of course contagious and we have to take precautions against them. We separated him from others and also from Adrien.”

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Goals from Theo Hernandez and substitute Randal Kolo Muani were enough to give France victory over a spirited Moroccan side.

Antoine Griezmann was voted man of the match after another influential performance, and he admitted beating an Argentinian side led by Lionel Messi – in “brilliant form”, as Deschamps explained – would require another step up.

“Every team with Messi is a completely different thing,” said Griezmann. “We’ve seen practically all their games at this World Cup, we’ve seen Argentina play, we know how they play, they’re a difficult team to play and they seem to be in top form.

“Of course they don’t just have Messi, they have a strong team around them, so we know it’s going to be a tough game and they’ll have a lot of support from the crowd.

“We’ll get back to work tomorrow, focus on how to hurt them, how to defend against them, we’ll be well prepared.”

https://www.espn.com/soccer/france-fra/story/4832183/france-taking-all-precautions-to-prevent-virus-spread-before-world-cup-final-deschamps France wary of virus spread in squad before World Cup final

Emma Bowman

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