France hit by virus ahead of World Cup final

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France have been hit with a virus that could see the team’s starting centre-back pairing miss the World Cup final, sources have told ESPN.

According to sources, Raphael Varane has small symptoms of the virus and fellow defender Ibrahima Konate has not left his room after feeling unwell.

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France coach Didier Deschamps said they were taking precautions to stop a virus spreading through the squad after Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot missed the semifinal win over Morocco due to sickness.

“In Doha, temperatures have fallen a little bit, you have air conditioning which is on all the time,” Deschamps said after the win against Morocco.

“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.”

Sources have told ESPN that Rabiot and 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,” he said.

“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.”

It is the latest setback for France after star players Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez and Christopher Nkunku were ruled out of the tournament with injuries.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Ousmane Dembele said the squad were not worried about the virus spreading to other players.

“We’re not scared of that virus,” he said. “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.”

Les Bleus are looking to become the first team to successfully defend the World Cup trophy since Brazil in 1962.

Information from Reuters was included in this report.

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