Germany are facing a potential crisis ahead of their 2014 World Cup quarter-final against France on Friday. Coach Joachim Low has confirmed seven of his players are showing signs of illness.
While Low did not name any players specifically, he did say that there was a flu-like bug spreading through his team, per The Guardian:
Seven players are slightly ill with flu symptoms. It is not that bad at the moment and it could be partly about air conditioning, the travel, temperature differences. I do not want to make a drama of it. We hope the situation will ease.
Low later updated his players' status (via Paul Hayward of The Telegraph):
Joachim Low confirms that 7 German players had flu symptoms. "But yesterday all players were able to train," with slight cold.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) July 3, 2014
Germany play France in Rio de Janeiro for a spot in the last four after having edged past Algeria in extra time of their last-16 tie in Porto Alegre.
Defender Mats Hummels missed that encounter because of illness, and it now seems to have spread to several other players, although the Borussia Dortmund man tweeted he was almost fully recovered:
So gut wie wieder hergestellt :) Almost back at 100% :) pic.twitter.com/Mp1ncU81fw— Mats Hummels (@matshummels) July 2, 2014
Goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke confirmed that midfielder Christoph Kramer was one of the players struck down with the illness and described him as experiencing "slight chills," per The Guardian report.
With only a day to go until the crucial encounter with France, the news raises serious concerns as to the fitness of several of Low's players, despite the coach's attempts to play it down.
Germany will need a full complement of players if they are to make it to a fourth consecutive semi-final, as they face a strong French team and have struggled at times in Brazil.
4 - #GER have reached the semi-finals of the last 3 World Cups. No nation has ever made the last 4 in 4 successive tournaments. History.— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) July 3, 2014
They were particularly poor in the last round against Algeria—a game they eventually won 2-1 after going scoreless through 90 minutes—when they were put under serious pressure by an inferior side, per German football expert Raphael Honigstein:
Forward Lukas Podolski missed the Algeria game along with Hummels but will likely be available for the France encounter after having recovered from a thigh strain.
It remains to be seen how many of Germany's players will be ruled out because of illness on Friday, but either way, they must improve against Didier Deschamps' side. France have been relatively impressive thus far with the likes of Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema starring.
The prize for the winner in Rio is a semi-final encounter with either Colombia or Brazil. If Germany's players do not recover in time, France must be seen as favourites.