Why are France’s players getting ill at the World Cup?
Friday has not been a very good news day for fans of the France national team as multiple players are reported to be coming down with flu-like symptoms.
It is the last thing that any team wants ahead of the World Cup final. The match kicks off at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Sunday 18 December at 15:00 GMT and if any players do have serious flu symptoms on Friday, they are unlikely to feel 100% when the game comes around.
Here is a look at which players have been affected ahead of the 2022 World Cup final against Argentina and what seems to be causing it.
Two players that have started most games for France at the 2022 World Cup were absent for the semi-final against Croatia earlier in the week. They are Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano.
Thankfully for France, they were able to beat Morocco 2-0 in that game and avoid an upset that would have put an end to their dream of defending the World Cup.
The third player to be named as having developed similar symptoms was Kingsley Coman. That was confirmed by France coach Didier Deschamps as being the case, and he also stressed that they do not want it to spread.
“Coman had a fever this morning,” Deschamps said. “We have had a few cases of flu-like symptoms. We are trying to be careful so that it does not spread. The players have put in a great effort on the pitch and obviously, their immune systems have suffered.
“Dayot Upamecano felt bad right after the game against England. It happens when you exert yourself so much, you are more prone to getting these viruses. We’re taking all the necessary precautions.”
On Friday afternoon, it was confirmed by L’Equipe that centre-back pairing Raphael Varane and Ibrahim Konate, of Manchester United and Liverpool respectively, have also got flu symptoms. Varane was almost certain to start the game against Argentina and Konate was likely to as well.
RMC also reported on Friday that Theo Hernandez was absent from training due to a knee problem, and Aurelien Tchouameni also didn’t take part because of a hip injury.
Randal Kolo Muani, a goalscorer in the semi-final, tried to reassure fans and the media during Friday’s press conference that the flu is not a big deal by saying: “A little flu which is going around, it’s nothing bad and I think they’ll be back for Sunday.”
It seems that there is a bug of some sort making its way through the camp. Other teams have also had players suffering from illness during the tournament.
Something that many feel could be the cause of this is the air conditioning within the stadiums, but also just everywhere that the players have been during the tournament.
Deschamps talked about the air conditioning and the situation in the camp after the semi-final against Morocco.
“In Doha, temperatures have fallen a little bit, you have air conditioning which is on all the time. 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,” Deschamps said.
It is true that spending prolonged periods of time in air conditioning can cause illness. William Fisk, the leader of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Indoor Environment Group, told Huffpost in 2019: “A large body of research has found that occupants of offices with air conditioning tend to report more sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms than occupants of naturally ventilated offices.
“SBS symptoms are self-reported symptoms mostly of eye, nose or throat irritation and respiratory symptoms such as cough.” Fisk said these symptoms are “possibly due to the moisture from AC units, which expose people to additional toxins, allergens or irritants.” That moisture leaves the system open to tiny pollutants.
For France to have five players who are ill and no other team to have had more than one or two throughout the tournament, there is clearly something else at play in the French camp. Apart from isolating the players in question, which is far from ideal in terms of match preparation, there is very little that France can do to improve the situation.
England will be considered failures if we don’t win Euro 2024
England defender Harry Maguire has revealed he will head to Euro 2024 with the mindset that anything less than winning the competition will be a failure.
The Three Lions have cemented their status as a strong tournament team over the last half-decade under the guidance of Gareth Southgate.
After reaching the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 2018, England were only denied victory at Euro 2020 on penalties against Italy in the final.
There were high hopes that they could go all the way at the 2022 World Cup over the winter, but were narrowly beaten by reigning champions France in a hard-fought quarter-final.
England kicked off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win at Italy, and speaking to the press post-match, Maguire revealed his ambitions for glory in Germany next summer.
“I think for me, at my age as well, 30 years old now, I’m with a mindset of, ‘If we don’t win the tournament, it’s been a failure’,” he said.
“We’ve got to qualify first – I mean it’s a tough group, [but] we’ve come here and got an amazing result.
“But that’s my mindset. I’ve been at three major tournaments now and I’ve come so close. I believe we have the players to win it. We went into Qatar wanting to win the tournament. So ultimately, when we get knocked out, as a squad we’re disappointed. The performances were good, we kept the most clean sheets at the tournament, we were one of the top goalscorers despite going out in the quarter-final.
“I’m speaking on behalf of myself but I know from speaking to the other lads as well, they were really pleased that Gareth stayed [on as manager]. We’ve built something as a group and he’s been the leader of it. He’s been the one who’s given us hope and given us belief as a country to be successful in these major tournaments and, for sure, it benefits us for us for him to be in charge.
“These big tournaments are decided on the finest margins. We played really well in the World Cup and ultimately, we got knocked out by a good French team. A French team that we believe we can take on and if we play them ten times, we would give them a good game ten times and probably win more than we lose.
“However, they’ve proven over the years that they manage to get the job done better than England do. So it’s something that we’re working on. We have so much talent and so many young players coming through.”
Maguire recognised that England were simply beaten at the 2022 World Cup by a more experienced and successful international side in France.
Despite reservations over Didier Deschamps, the 54-year-old has an incredible tournament record – to have won one final and lost two others is a far better record than most other coaches in the history of football.
England hope to be on a similar path with Southgate, but as Maguire insisted, they need to win a tournament if they’re to be remembered fondly and without tinges of regret.
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