Football

The ‘next 48 hours’ are crucial as Varane aims to start France’s opener against Australia

Raphael Varane will reportedly start for France in their World Cup opening match against Australia if he proves his fitness within the “next 48 hours”.

The experienced defender was injured while playing for Manchester United on October 22.

Varane fell clutching his knee in a match against Chelsea in the Premier League.

Perhaps coming to the conclusion that his 2022 World Cup dream was over, Varane fought back tears as he limped.

It was initially unclear if he would recover in time to be chosen in Didier Deschamps’ 26-man squad.

Varane was unable to return to United before the World Cup break.

However, Deschamps selected him because the France manager clearly deemed him fit enough to travel to Qatar.

The Blues begin their campaign against Australia on Tuesday as they look to kick off their title defense with a win at Al-Wakrah.

They will hope to avoid the curse of the reigning champions in Qatar.

At the 2018 World Cup, champions Germany fell in the group stage, as did 2010 winner Spain in 2014, 2006 winner Italy in 2010 and 1998 winner France in 2002.

Varane played a crucial role in France’s triumph four years ago in Russia.

It was a pretty good year for the defender, who also won the Champions League with Real Madrid.

The 29-year-old has 12 World Cup appearances to his name and played every minute for his country as they won the main tournament in 2018.

Despite his incredible reputation and success with France and Madrid, Varane hasn’t exactly made it to Manchester United, mainly due to injury.

France boss Deschamps has already been forced to send Christopher Nkunku home after he suffered an injury in training, and he hopes his decision to take Varane to the Middle East is justified.

According to L’Equipe (via Sports Witness), the next 48 hours are crucial in determining whether or not United’s central midfielder can play against Australia.

Neither Varane nor Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema were photographed in group activities during training this week, raising some concern in France.

However, the newspaper says that it is a “simple delay” and that his workload has “increased” quite a bit.

Varane’s injury has prevented him from using his thigh to the maximum, although the exercises he has done feel good, which has “validated an important step in the Frenchman’s return.”

The French squad will train on Friday and Saturday and Varane will have to participate to the maximum if he wants to show that he is ready to face the Socceroos.

It is a ’48 decisive hours’ for the former Real Madrid player, whose performance in training is the only way he will be ‘seen as ready to be considered’ for Tuesday’s game.

Apparently, Varane feels good and if he gets through either of the two sessions without problems, “there will be no doubt” that he will start against Australia.

If the 29-year-old were unavailable, Arsenal’s William Saliba could be called up.

The 21-year-old has started the season excellently after returning to north London in the summer following his incredible loan spell with Marseille in 2021-22.

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