Here come the champions! French squad pose on their private jet before flying out to defend their World Cup crown in Qatar after calling up Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani to replace Christopher Nkunku

Defending champions France are on their way to the World Cup after the squad posted a picture on their private plane to Qatar.

Stars including Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane are among those travelling to the tournament in the gulf nation, where France will look to retain their crown.

Didier Deschamps’ men are expected to arrive in Doha later on Wednesday before heading to their luxurious base.

France are staying at the Al-Messila in Doha, which has an eye-catching design based on an Arabian palace.

The £1,500-a-night hotel features 30 private pool villas and an extensive wine and champagne list, which will ensure some good celebrations should France retain the title. 

The French squad are on their way to Qatar for the World Cup, where they will look to defend their title

The French squad are on their way to Qatar for the World Cup, where they will look to defend their title

France will stay at the Al Messila, an opulent 130-room complex near the capital Doha which is modelled like a palace

France will stay at the Al Messila, an opulent 130-room complex near the capital Doha which is modelled like a palace

Earlier on Wednesday, Deschamps called up Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani as a replacement for the injured Christopher Nkunku.

Nkunku was ruled out of the tournament after suffering a leg injury in training on Tuesday, in Les Bleus’ final session before they jet out to Qatar today.

Kolo Muani has scored eight goals in 23 appearances for Frankfurt this season, and made his first two appearances for France as a substitute against Austria and Denmark in the Nations League in September. 

Randal Kolo Muani has received a late call-up to the World Cup by the French national squad

Randal Kolo Muani has received a late call-up to the World Cup by the French national squad

He replaces RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku who suffered a leg injury in training on Tuesday

He replaces RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku who suffered a leg injury in training on Tuesday

The French national team confirmed in a statement: ‘Didier Deschamps has decided to summon the Eintracht Frankfurt striker to replace that of RB Leipzig.

‘The FIFA Medical Committee having endorsed the withdrawal of Christopher Nkunku due to injury, Didier Deschamps had the possibility of calling a player to replace him.

‘The national coach has decided to call on Randal Kolo Muani. The Eintracht Frankfurt striker, currently in Japan with his club, will join the French team in Doha on Thursday morning.’ 

Nkunku’s injury was the latest blow for the reigning World Cup champions, with midfielders N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, as well as defender Presnel Kimpembe all absent from the tournament.

Nkunku is said to have suffered his leg injury after a collision with Eduardo Camavinga

Nkunku is said to have suffered his leg injury after a collision with Eduardo Camavinga

Raphael Varane is also in a race against time to be fit for their tournament opener with Australia on November 22.

RMC Sport reported that Nkunku suffered the injury after a collision with Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga at the French national football centre on Tuesday. 

Nkunku was seen clutching onto his leg in pain and was helped off the training pitch at Clairefontaine.  

The forward underwent medical tests on Tuesday after he had limped out of training.

Muani has scored eight goals in 23 appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt this season

Muani has scored eight goals in 23 appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt this season

France jet off to Qatar today with their opener against Australia on Tuesday, November 22

France jet off to Qatar today with their opener against Australia on Tuesday, November 22

The initial reaction to the incident from those present suggested worries about the impact the knock could have on his ability to participate in Qatar.

The Leipzig forward has been in superb form so far this season, scoring 12 goals and adding two assists in just 15 Bundesliga games.

As a result, he is top of the scoring charts in the German top flight and also helped his side to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.

France are in Group D for the tournament in Qatar, alongside Australia, Denmark and Tunisia. They open their campaign against Australia on Tuesday.

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