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Didier Deschamps claims illness affected France in World Cup final

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Didier Deschamps suggested France had felt the “physical or psychological impact” of an illness-affected run-up to their extraordinary World Cup final defeat against Argentina, although he stopped short of saying it contributed to the outcome.

Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian

France were overrun until two goals in 97 seconds from Kylian Mbappé turned a procession for their opponents into a wild, see-sawing affair that went the distance. A virus had stretched an already depleted squad, with three players missing the semi-final against Morocco and at least two others affected in the subsequent days. All involved were passed fit for the match on Sunday but Deschamps highlighted a flatness that noticeably dogged his team for much of the game.

Related: Kylian Mbappé leads French frenzy after Didier Deschamps rolls the dice | Jacob Steinberg

“The whole squad has been facing a tricky situation for a while now,” he said. “Maybe that had a physical or psychological impact. But I had no concerns about the players who started the match: they were 100% fit.

 

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“We only had four days since the last match so there was some tiredness, perhaps. That’s not an excuse, we just didn’t have the same energy as in the previous match and that’s why, for the first hour or so, we weren’t in the match.”

Deschamps revealed he had spoken to the referee, Szymon Marciniak, after the game but would not elaborate on the reason. He distanced himself from any idea the officiating had helped Argentina to win while making clear that, in his view, they had been let off lightly earlier in the tournament.

“I need to be careful – you saw it as well as I did,” he said of Marciniak’s performance.

“It could have been worse, it could have been better. Before this match Argentina had been a little bit lucky but I don’t want to take anything away from them; they fully deserve the title. It is not because we suffered from any decisions that they came out victorious. I just discussed this with the referee after the game but don’t want to go into details.”

There is a considerable question around Deschamps’s future. He has been in the job 10 years but his deal was due to expire after Qatar 2022.

“Even if we had won I wouldn’t have replied [on that topic] tonight,” he said. “I’m very sad for my players and staff. I will have a meeting with the president [of the French Football Federation] at the beginning of next year and then you will find out.”

On Mbappé, who finished on the losing side despite being the first hat‑trick scorer in a men’s final since 1966, he said: “Kylian has really left his mark on this final. Unfortunately he didn’t end in the way he would have liked and that’s why he was disappointed at the end of the match like all the players.”

Source:The Guardian

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