Visit of Al-Khelaïfi and Nzonzi, 300 children present… a first studious training for the Blues

It is 6:35 p.m., the moist, even stifling heat of Doha subsides when finally, the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium ignites. The Blues are there. A back-to-school atmosphere takes hold of the stands. It’s not every day that you can applaud reigning world champions. Especially when you are ten years old and live in Doha.

Three hundred French children from schools in the city had the chance to attend this Thursday the first collective training of the French team on Qatari soil. Open to the press, this session took place in a friendly atmosphere. Something to please Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, Noël Le Graët and Steven Nzonzi, present for the occasion and lucky since they did not attend any injury outings. Almost a miracle these days in Blue, even if Olivier Giroud had time to thrill the staff with an overpowering left-footed volley that he finished grimacing on the ground.

Tchouaméni back, the good news of the day

The session began with two passing exercises. If Aurélien Tchouaméni stayed for the opposition that followed – he had shortened his session on Tuesday – Raphaël Varane and Karim Benzema still stood apart. The two men spent an hour alongside physical trainer Cyril Moine. Smiles of rigor for the former teammates of Real Madrid but we will wait for the physical guarantees. The attacker is hit in the left thigh (quadriceps), the defender in the right hamstrings.

The few sprints achieved offer no certainty about their current state of form and especially about their future health. They barely touched the ball, took no shots and finished the workout sitting on the mats, repeating the stretches. Varane’s chances now look weaker than Benzema’s. His presence from the first group match is anything but acquired.

Raphaël Varane and Karim Benzema spent most of the session apart. THE PARISIAN / ARNAUD JOURNOIS

Facing them, the other 24 internationals played half-court matches with a certain intensity. Five short days now separate Didier Deschamps’ group from the first match against Australia, Tuesday November 22 (8 p.m.). This Friday, training will again take place at the end of the afternoon. On the other hand, from Saturday until Monday, the Blues will train later. The session will start at 9 p.m. in order to adapt as much as possible to the time of the first match scheduled an hour later (10 p.m. local time) twenty kilometers away. The temperature should drop a little more.



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