Didier Deschamps would have liked to spend the last two days planning to stop Lionel Messi in the World Cup final between France and Argentina. Instead, he has been busy answering questions about the outbreak in France.
France is not the only team that suffered from illness in Qatar. Brazilian Anthony blamed the air conditioning for his cold, while Switzerland coach Morat Yakin cited illness for his side’s 6-1 defeat by Portugal.
But the form that affects world champions has been the most pervasive and the most commented on.
How serious is it? How many players are in danger of missing the biggest football match? And could it really be what is colloquially known as “camel flu”?
It should be noted that the French Football Federation has shared few details on the matter. And many of the more obscure rumors about the virus can be quickly debunked. With that in mind, here’s one of the tournament’s biggest stories.
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Who has been sick?
France has been without a number of key players in this World Cup. Lucas Hernandez and Karim Benzema were injured in Qatar, while N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Wesley Fofana, Mike Mignon, Perselle Kimpembe, Christopher Nkonko were injured before the tournament.
France suffered an illness shortly after their 2-1 win over England on December 10.
Three days later, the two players who started that game – defender Dayot Opamkanu and midfielder Adrien Rabiot – missed practice because they were not feeling well. Neither played in the subsequent 2-0 semi-final win over Morocco.
On Thursday, Deschamps said Kingsley Coman was feeling down. And before the final against Argentina, France confirmed that Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate had fallen victim to the bug.
Who missed practice on Friday?
Five players but not the five players listed above.
Opamcano and Rabiot felt so good that they returned to training. But Koeman, Varane and Konate all had to stay away from the main group and train separately.
Teo Hernandez and Aurelien Chuameni were also absent, but not due to illness. Hernandez suffered a knee injury in the win against Morocco and trained individually. Choumeny, who has started all of France’s games, is suffering from a minor hip injury.
Who is not available for the final?
it is not clear. France has been murky in its efforts to deny Argentina a tactical advantage.
Deschamps insisted on Wednesday that Opamecano and Rabiot are fit to play. Both players returning to practice on Friday show they are in contention.
Less is known about Coman, Varane and Konate. But they have little time to regain full fitness and it is instructive that either Opamecano or Rabiot played against Morocco due to missing training sessions – although Opamecano was fit enough to be on the bench.
Some reports in the French media late on Friday night suggested that Koeman was close to a return.
Has France changed its protocols?
Yeah. They have essentially reverted to a set of measures that became popular in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Journalists interviewing French players at the tournament are now required to wear masks. “We are all trying to be careful not to spread,” Deschamps explained after the Morocco win.
Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele later added: “We are not worried. We are just taking precautions. The first day that Dayot got the virus, he stayed in his room as a precaution. After that he was integrated into the group.
He also said he made “ginger and honey tea” for his weaker teammates. Which is sweet for him at least.
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What exactly do they suffer from?
it’s not specified yet.
Deschamps initially said Opamcano and Rabiot had “flu-like symptoms”. He later said Koeman was suffering from a “fever”.
“In Doha, the temperature has dropped a bit, you have the air conditioning that’s always on,” Deschamps said. We have had a few cases of flu-like symptoms. “We’re trying to be careful not to let it spread and the players have put in a lot of effort off the pitch and obviously their immune system is affected.”
Dembele has described the bug as a “virus” and Randall Kolo Moani, who scored France’s second goal against Morocco with his first touch, told reporters: “It’s a small bug that has spread, but nothing serious. “No. They will be on their feet on Sunday.”
A French press officer was quick to add, “Randall is not a doctor, as you know.”
What is this about MERS?
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a coronavirus like COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States: “Most MERS patients developed severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About three or four of every 10 reported MERS patients have died.
On December 11, around the time Opamkanu and Rabiot first fell ill, a number of English-language media outlets reported that the British Health Security Agency had warned doctors across the UK that fans returning from Qatar may be carrying the virus.
However, this briefing note has not been made public. And it is unclear whether cases of MERS have been diagnosed in people who have recently visited Qatar.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Institute of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, said on Dec. 14.
MERS is circulating for the 3rd day in a row, so again AFAIK there is not even 1 World Cup related case. I don’t think there are any suspicious cases, other than “I saw people coughing”.
While MERS-CoV is always a concern, these particular concerns seem fanciful.
— Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) December 14, 2022
And what about air conditioning?
Air conditioning systems used in some Qatar World Cup stadiums have been known to cause illness among players.
Seven of the eight stadiums are air-cooled at ground level, while the interiors of buildings and vehicles in Qatar are typically air-conditioned due to the country’s high temperatures.
Manchester United striker Anthony has told ESPN Brazil that he believes the air conditioning has caused him discomfort in the early stages of the World Cup. He said: It was a little difficult. I ended up feeling bad for a few days there, which made me a little confused.
“It was more of an illness, throat. There was air conditioning (in the stadiums). “Not only me, but other players also had a bad cough and throat.”
This week, Deschamps suggested that the air conditioning in the team hotel could have played a role in the outbreak.
He said: “The air conditioner is always on, and because of this, we have had several cases of flu-like symptoms, but we are trying to prevent its spread.”
“Players put in a lot of effort on the pitch and so their immune system is compromised. Your body is weakened and you’re more susceptible.”
Can the World Cup final be postponed?
FIFA will be doing everything they can to prevent the biggest match in all of sports from taking place and with the vast majority of France’s players training as scheduled on Friday, the chances of the game being postponed seem almost nil. .
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