The Mail on Sunday - 2021-10-10


Covid has hit France’s Nations League final hopes, admits Lloris


From Matt Barlow IN MILAN

HUGO LLORIS admitted footballers were enduring uncertain times as France were hit by a Covid outbreak on the eve of their Nations League final against Spain. Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot had to pull out of Didier Deschamps’ squad after recording a positive test yesterday. ‘We are disappointed and sad for Adrien,’ said France and Tottenham captain Lloris. ‘It is always a disappointment to see a team-mate leaving, especially before a final. ‘We have known for a while that there is always this cloud above us before games. We always get tested before games but Covid is still present and we need to keep protecting ourselves to work the best we can.’ The players were tested on Friday but the results were not known until 8am yesterday, just before the world champions travelled to Milan for today’s final. ‘It’s bad news, obviously,’ added Deschamps. ‘We are in this sanitary environment but the fear is still there and the group is affected. It is not easy. When we arrived in Milan we did another test and everybody is negative.’ Everton left-back Lucas Digne withdrew from the squad earlier in the week with a hamstring injury. Deschamps is left with only 21 players but the mood has been transformed by the thrilling comeback from two down to win 3-2 against Belgium in Thursday’s semifinal in Turin. ‘Mentally, we were down lately,’ said Lloris. ‘We had to get back on track. Against Belgium, everything was there to find confidence. ‘We were looking to get back those feelings lost after the defeat against Switzerland. The win against Belgium was more than welcome for French football and it is always special to play in a final for your country.’ Antoine Griezmann is set to win his 100th cap, in a star-studded front line with Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema. Aymeric Laporte will face France for the first time since changing allegiance to Spain and his Manchester City team-mate Ferran Torres is confident of being fit despite an ankle problem. Spain v France, live on Sky Sports, 7.45pm


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