Hugo Lloris believes French spirit can triumph in Lionel Messi's World Cup hurrah

Les Bleus are battling illness before Argentina clash but captain says the mood is still good

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France captain Hugo Lloris says his team will give everything to win a successive World Cup despite the virus working its way through their camp, while he also brushed aside the feeling the rest of the football world wants Lionel Messi to finally land the trophy.

The world champions take on Argentina in the final on Sunday at Lusail Stadium, in a match that pits against one another countries seeking a third global title. While France triumphed four years ago, Argentina, the South American champions, have not captured a World Cup since 1986.

However, France have had to deal the past few days an illness within the squad, with several players isolating from staff and teammates. On Friday, defenders Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate missed training, while Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot sat out the semi-final victory against Morocco on Wednesday.

Appearing on Saturday morning at the pre-match press conference in Doha, Lloris said: "I haven't got any more news since last night. Everyone was still in their rooms this morning when I got up for breakfast, so I haven't seen anyone. I'm sure you will get more information by our next training session.

"You are never really prepared for a virus. This was something we weren't necessarily prepared for, but we remain focused and, of course, we're very excited about playing in a World Cup final."

Lloris, now France’s all-time leading appearance-maker, was asked if the virus has in fact provided the squad with another source of motivation heading into Sunday’s showpiece.

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"In the past we have already proved that French teams, that have been successful, have always based that success on a strong team spirit,” the goalkeeper said.

"We try to draw from that. There has been a very good feeling in the camp since the start of the tournament and there is no reason why that shouldn't be seen again tomorrow.

"There is always uncertainty about the outcome, and we're going to try and do our best despite the circumstances. I think the adrenaline and excitement that we'll feel will mean we're all fit enough to do everything we can to win this last battle."

Sunday’s encounter, a repeat of the last-16 tie in 2018 when France prevailed 4-3, has been billed as Messi’s last hurrah on football’s grand stage. The Argentina captain, 35, has been one of the players of the tournament in Qatar, scoring five times – he sits joint top of the charts with Frenchman Kylian Mbappe – and registering three assists.

Following the semi-final win against Croatia on Tuesday, Messi said he expects Sunday to be his final World Cup appearance.

Hugo Lloris lifts the World Cup in Russia

France's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris holds the trophy as he celebrates with teammates during the trophy ceremony at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Alexander NEMENOV / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS

On how he feels about neutrals perhaps wanting Messi to sign off with a winner’s medal, Lloris said: "We have the support of our fans, and we know the French people are behind us. Nothing else really matters.

"We started this World Cup with an objective to go as far as possible, and very few people believed in us at the outset. We are now in the final, four years after our last final, and we're going to pull out all the stops to try and win this game.

"Of course, we know what Lionel Messi means in the history of football. But this is a match between France and, at the end of the day, Argentina.

"There are some very good players in both squads and Argentina are very good competitors. We are looking forward to a great match."

Lloris added: "Over the years Argentina has always produced some world-class players; [Diego] Maradona was a perfect example and now we've got Lionel Messi. They are legends of football.

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"Everyone will be really looking forward to the final in the Argentina camp, but for France, whoever you play in a World Cup final, it will be a tremendous occasion. And maybe playing Argentina makes that more of an attractive proposition. I sincerely hope this match will go down in history - French history in particular."

Lloris, 35, was captain when France secured the trophy in 2018, when they defeated Croatia 4-2 in Moscow. The Tottenham Hotspur stopper said the experience of Russia will no doubt help his players on Sunday, but warned a “totally different” final awaits them.

"We are looking forward to making the history books in our own way: our players and our staff,” Lloris said. “We've already achieved a great deal in this tournament, but we're looking forward to going further.

"I was privileged enough to win the trophy in 2018. I am very proud of that. But, to be honest, I am focusing on the present now. What happened in the past belongs to the past. We are looking forward to writing our own history and creating our own story and we want to finish this tournament as well as we possibly can.

"Of course, it is going to be the most difficult match in the tournament. It is the final, that goes without saying. We are going to have to be ready for any scenario.

"We are going to be ready to show great solidarity and graft. In spite of all the games, and the tiredness, and the virus that has been going through the camp, we are going to have to finish the job as well as we can."

Updated: December 17, 2022, 11:00 AM