Meme fest hailing England's 'masterclass' erupts after virus grips France before World Cup final vs Argentina
Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate have become the latest France players to catch a virus that is sweeping through the defending World Cup champions ahead of Sunday's final with Argentina. There's a theory that it was caught from the England squad, sparking a massive meme fest.
Before Sunday's Qatar World Cup 2022 final against Argentina, Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate joined a growing list of French squad members who have contracted the virus afflicting the defending champions.
Manchester United star Varane and Liverpool's Konate both featured in France's 2-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday night to set up a final clash against Lionel Messi and Co. However, it is believed that both centre backs woke up on Friday morning with minor cold and flu symptoms. As a result, they will now be isolated and watched over the next 24 hours.
Dayot Upamecano, another defender, and Adrien Rabiot, a midfielder, also contracted the disease earlier this week and missed the semi-final. Kingsley Coman, a backup winger, has also been ill.
France manager Didier Deschamps explained the situation on Thursday, stating, "Coman had a fever this morning. 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," he added.
Striker Randal Kolo Muani, who came off the bench to score France's second goal in their win over Morocco, added, "There's a little flu that's been spreading, but nothing serious. They'll be well soon and be ready for Sunday."
"Those who are sick stay in their room, they're being taken care of by the doctors and we've been enforcing social distancing. We're very strict about it," Muani added.
Meanwhile, Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele said, "We're not scared of that virus. Dayot and Adrien got a bit of a stomach ache, I made them a ginger and honey tea and then they felt better. I hope everyone will be ready for the final."
"Dayot got better and I think everyone will be ready. We've been taking precautions. The first day, Dayot stayed in his room and we brought him food and he was back with everyone the next day," he added.
With the final only 48 hours away, Deschamps must now wait in suspense to see if Konate or Varane will recuperate.
If the two cannot play, Upamecano might be reinserted; another choice would be William Saliba of Arsenal.
Jules Kounde, who previously played as a right-back in Qatar, might move inside. However, doing so would probably necessitate a significant reorganisation of the defence, with either Benjamin Pavard or Axel Disasi moving to full-back.
After the injured Ballon d'Or winger returned to fitness, there has been discussion of Karim Benzema rejoining the France team. This is yet to be confirmed or denied by the France Football Federation.
From England squad being blamed for spreading virus to air-conditioning excuse - several theories are floating
The air conditioning in Qatar, which is being used to keep players, staff, and spectators cool in the sweltering heat, has been blamed by the French team for the illness virus.
They are not the first squad to voice their displeasure over this; earlier in the competition, Brazil and Manchester United player Antony also brought up the problem and its impact on his team.
Meanwhile, many have expressed dissatisfaction with the air conditioning in the tournament's various stadiums, admitting that they have had to wear jumpers to stay warm.
It was revealed just days after fans complained about the air conditioning that World Cup officials had switched it off an hour before England's group match against the USA, which resulted in a dreary goalless stalemate.
Several England players then complained afterwards that it was too hot inside the stadium during the game. Fans also have a theory that the French players caught the 'virus' from the England squad during their quarter-finals clash.
Here's a look at some of the memes, jokes and conspiracy theories on Twitter: