“Make Our Stars Shine” was the message posted in the stands. At the only training session open to the public on French soil ahead of the World Cup in Qatar (November 20-December 18), France players could count on the support of nearly 300 fans, including the core group of Irresistibles who came to give their voice to the Clairefontaine national football centre. “Come on Les Bleus, your fans are there”, “If you’re proud to be French, clap your hands”, “Shalala, world champion”… all the classics from the ideal fan’s repertoire were here. Kylian Mbappe, as usual, was able to assess his popularity rating during the autograph session that preceded the session.
All 26 Blues called up for the World Championship took part in the warm-up. Then Karim Benzema, accompanied by physical education coach Cyril Moin, left the field on a cart. He went to continue training indoors with individual exercises. The Real Madrid striker, who sprinted with Rafael Varane and Aurélien Chuameni on Monday, is not yet 100%, as are two of his teammates who were also eligible for a fit. Fifteen minutes later, the Mancunian and the Madrilenian returned in turn, accompanied by goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda.
Having made several chains of passes, the Blues ended the training session with a ten-on-ten confrontation in the quarter of the field. Alphonse Areola was the flying element, with Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez in the defensive lanes and the Saliba-Conate pivot on the winning team. The Liverpool player could well replace Presnel Kimpembe in the opening match against Australia on November 22. The same team included Youssouf Fofana, Adrian Rabiot, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Christophe Nkunku, for whom the training ended in great fear.
Having received a blow to the left leg after being hit by a partner at the very end of the confrontation, the Leipzig striker eventually got up and, limping slightly, left the field. “I can’t tell you anything yet,” admitted an irritated Didier Deschamps, leaving the field.
In the evening, the former Parisian will go through the hands of Dr. Franck Le Gall to find out if it was just a stroke. The Blues are leaving their apartments in Clairefontaine this Wednesday morning for Doha, Qatar. Departure from Le Bourget is scheduled for 10:30.