France has not been hit too hard by the virus that has hit several players in recent days, according to coach Didier Deschamps, and the team is preparing to close its World Cup participation in Sunday’s final against Argentina.
Defenders Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, Raphael Varane, midfielder Adrien Rabiot and forward Kingsley Coman were all infected during the week, but most have since recovered.
Only Konate, Coman and Varane missed Friday’s group training; Rabiot and Upamecano returned to the group after missing the semi-final against Morocco on Wednesday.
“We try to take the maximum precautions, adapt and face it, without going overboard. That is obviously an issue. If it didn’t exist it would be better, but we managed as best we can,” Deschamps told a news conference on Saturday.
The Lusail stadium will be the third final for Deschamps, who won the World Cup in 1998 as captain of “Les Bleus” and four years ago as coach.
On Saturday he was calm, despite the pressure of facing a team that wants to give Lionel Messi his first world title.
“I have no worries or stress. The important thing in preparing for a match like this is to stay calm,” Deschamps said.
“In a World Cup final, there is the game, but also the context, which is particular. I know that the Argentines, and maybe also some French, would like to see Messi win the title.”
However, captain Hugo Lloris said the match is more important than Messi.
“The event is too important to focus on a single player. It’s a final between two great countries,” he said.
“When you face this type of player (Messi), you have to pay attention to him, but this game is not just about him.”
France have shown that they can adapt to any type of team, which could be a great asset against Argentina, which has tested several systems during the World Cup.
“You have to be willing to suffer sometimes. You also have to take advantage of good situations,” Lloris said.
“Tomorrow (Sunday) there will be a game plan to respect. We continue to study this team and prepare for this great game. There are always things we’re not prepared for.”
“To face it we need a perfect mentality, to be prepared to give more. We know that we are capable of playing with possession and on the counterattack. We have a lot of fast players in attack. The strength of our team is that we can adapt to any type of scenario.”
Asked to compare the 2018 final against Croatia and Sunday’s match against Argentina, Lloris refused to look back.
“We want to write our own history. We want to finish it in the best possible way. As long as nothing is done, the hardest part is yet to come,” he said.
“We have to be prepared to overcome ourselves, to make the effort despite the circumstances with the virus, despite the fatigue. We have to finish the job.”