World Cup 2022 final: France trio train separately as virus hampers final preparations – report

Raphael Varane of France during the FIFA World Cup 2022 semi-final match between France and Morocco on 14 December, 2022 at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar
(Image credit: FIFA via Getty Images)

Three France (opens in new tab) players are reportedly training separately from their teammates as a virus continues to affect Les Bleus' preparations for Sunday's World Cup 2022 (opens in new tab) final against Argentina (opens in new tab).

The virus – which manager Didier Deschamps has blamed on the air conditioning at stadiums in Qatar (opens in new tab) – kept Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot out of Wednesday's semi-final win over Morocco.

Upamecano and Rabiot have since resumed training with the rest of the squad, but – as reported by the Guardian (opens in new tab) – Kingsley Coman, Ibrahima Konate and Raphael Varane have been kept away from the main group after falling ill. 

Should Konate and Varane – who partnered each other at centre-back against Morocco – not be fit for the final, Deschamps will find himself facing something of a crisis in defence.

It may mean an unexpected start for Arsenal's William Saliba, whose only action at the tournament so far was a 27-minute cameo in the 1-0 group-stage loss to Tunisia (which came after France had already booked their place in the last 16).

That was only Saliba's eighth senior cap; the 21-year-old – who has been a breakout star for Arsenal this season after several loan spells back in France – has started just two competitive international games.

France are looking become the first country since Brazil in 1962 to retain the World Cup; if they pull it off, Deschamps will become only the second coach to win the World Cup multiple times.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...