The French soccer team has not been overly troubled by the virus that has hit several players in the past few days, coach Didier Deschamps said, as the squad prepares to finish off their World Cup campaign 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, although most of them have recovered.
On Friday, only Konate, Coman and Varane missed collective training as Rabiot and Upamecano were back with the squad after being ruled out of the semi-final against Morocco on Wednesday.
“We try to take the maximum precautions, to adapt and to deal with it without going overboard,” Deschamps said during a news conference on Saturday. “It is obviously a situation. If it could not exist it would be better, but we manage as best we can.”
The showdown at the Lusail stadium will be Deschamps’ third World Cup final after he won it in 1998 as Les Bleus’ captain and then four years ago as their coach.
He oozed calm on Saturday despite the pressure of facing a team looking to give Lionel Messi his maiden World Cup title.
“I have no worries or stress. The important thing in preparing for a match like this is to remain calm,” said Deschamps.
“In a World Cup final, there is the match, but also the context which is particular,” he added. “But I know that the Argentinians, and maybe some French people too, would like to see Messi win the title.”
Captain Hugo Lloris said the game was bigger than Messi, however.
“The event is too important to focus on one player. It’s a final between two great nations,” he said. “When you face this kind of player [Messi], you have to pay attention to him, but this game is not just about him.”
France has shown they can adapt to any kind of team, which could be a big asset against Argentina, who have tested out several systems during the World Cup.
“You have to be willing to suffer at times. You have to make the most of the good situations, too,” said Lloris. “Tomorrow there will be a game plan to respect. We are still studying this team and preparing for this big game. There are always things we are not prepared for.”
To face that, he said, “we need a perfect mindset, to be ready to go above and beyond. We know that we are capable of playing with possession and on the counterattack. We have a lot of fast players offensively. 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 story. We want to finish it in the best way possible. As long as nothing is done, the hardest part is still to come,” he said. “We have to be ready to surpass ourselves, to make the effort despite the circumstances with the virus, despite the fatigue. We must finish the job.”