France hit by cold virus ahead of World Cup final

December 16, 2022

A cold virus is spreading through France’s squad, affecting at least three players ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final against Argentina.

Coach Didier Deschamps said two symptomatic players, defender Dayot Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot, were in isolation earlier this week and did not play France beat Morocco 2-0 in the semifinals.

Rabiot did not feature for Wednesday’s game at the Al Bayt Stadium. Upamecano was in the lineup as a substitute but did not play. Deschamps says Upamecano is recovering from “three difficult days” in Saturday’s quarter-final against England.

“However, there are still four days until the next game, so he should be available on Sunday,” the coach said, adding that backup winger Kingsley Coman also had a fever.

He insisted he wanted all of his players to be fit for the final against Argentina.

“It’s ‘flu season,’ and in that sense we have to be careful,” he said. “Also, the players have undergone a massive transition and their immune systems may have been a little bit weakened.”

France have been training outdoors in Qatar, with Deschamps pointing out that “the use of air conditioning may also affect” how the virus spreads, echoing comments made by the Brazil camp earlier in the game.

Seven of the eight World Cup stadiums cool the air at the venue level, and Qatar’s buildings and vehicles are often air-conditioned inside.

Switzerland also suffered a severe cold outbreak and was left without two starters for their decisive group-stage match against Serbia.

During the final week of the month-long tournament, daytime temperatures stabilized around 25-27 degrees Celsius (77-81 degrees Fahrenheit), with games starting in the mid-30s (80s).

The first World Cup will be held in November and December, originally scheduled for June and July, when temperatures in Qatar typically rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit)

“The temperature has dropped in recent days and you always need to be careful,” Deschamps said. “With the virus, we’re not worried, really.”

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