Didier Deschamps suggested France had felt the ‘physical or psychological impact’ of illness-affected preparation for their extraordinary World Cup final loss to Argentina, although he refrained from saying that this had contributed to the result.
France were overtaken until two goals in 97 seconds from Kylian Mbappé turned a procession for their opponents into a wild, up and down 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 more affected in the following days. All participants were deemed fit for Sunday’s game, but Deschamps displayed a flatness that noticeably hampered his team for much of the match.
“The whole team has been dealing with a delicate situation for a while now,” he said. “Maybe it had a physical or psychological impact. But I had no worries about the players who started the match: they were 100% fit.
“We only had four days since the last game, so maybe there was some fatigue. That’s no excuse, we just didn’t have the same energy as in the previous game and that’s why for the first hour or so we weren’t in the game.
Deschamps revealed he spoke to the referee, Szymon Marciniak, after the game, but did not elaborate on why. He distanced himself from any idea that the refereeing had helped Argentina win while clarifying that in his opinion they had been let down slightly earlier in the tournament.
“I have 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 game, Argentina had a bit of luck but I don’t want to take anything away from them; they fully deserve the title. It’s not because we suffered decisions that they came out on top. I just discussed it with the referee after the game, but I don’t want to go into details.
There is considerable question surrounding Deschamps’ future. He has been in the job for 10 years, but his contract was due to expire after Qatar 2022.
“Even if we had won, I would not have answered [on that topic] tonight,” he said. “I am very sad for my players and my staff. I will have a meeting with the president [of the French Football Federation] early next year and then you will know.
Of Mbappé, who finished on the losing side despite being the first hat-trick scorer in a men’s final since 1966, he said: “Kylian really scored in that final. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish as he would have liked and that’s why he was disappointed at the end of the game like all players.