France struck by cold virus ahead of World Cup final

Dec 14, 2022, 3:24 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2022, 5:26 am
France's head coach Didier Deschamps looks on before the World Cup semifinal soccer match between F...

France's head coach Didier Deschamps looks on before the World Cup semifinal soccer match between France and Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

              France's Adrien Rabiot, left, and France's Dayot Upamecano celebrate after the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between England and France, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — A cold virus is running through the France squad ahead of the World Cup final against Argentina on Sunday, affecting at least three players in the squad.

Coach Didier Deschamps said two players with symptoms, defender Dayot Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot, were isolated earlier this week and didn’t play in France’s 2-0 semifinal win over Morocco.

Rabiot wasn’t in the lineup in Wednesday’s match at Al Bayt stadium. Upamecano was in the lineup as a substitute but didn’t play. Deschamps said Upamecano was recovering from “three difficult days” since playing in the quarterfinals against England on Saturday.

“However, we have four days until the next game, so he should be available for Sunday,” the coach said, adding back-up winger Kingsley Coman had also felt feverish.

He insisted he expects all his players to be healthy for the final against Argentina.

“It’s ‘flu season now, and in that sense, we have to be careful,” he said. “And also, the players have put in a huge shift and their immune system might be a little run down.”

France has been training outdoors in Qatar and Deschamps noted the “use of air conditioners may also affect” how the virus is circulating, echoing comments earlier in the tournament from the Brazil camp.

Seven of the eight World Cup stadiums cool the air at field level while interiors of buildings and transport in Qatar are routinely air-conditioned.

Switzerland also had an outbreak of heavy colds and had two starters missing for a decisive group-stage game against Serbia.

The daytime heat has settled at around 25-27 Celsius (77-81 Fahrenheit) for the final week of the month-long tournament which started with temperatures in the low-30s (high 80s).

The first World Cup to be played in November and December was moved from the usual scheduling in June and July when temperatures in Qatar routinely rise above 40 C (104 F)

“The temperatures have dropped in the last few days, and you always need to be careful,” Deschamps said. “Regarding the virus, we’re not worried, really.”

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France struck by cold virus ahead of World Cup final