France’s march into the World Cup final dominated the nation’s headlines on Wednesday, with many already predicting a second title for Les Bleus in Moscow on Sunday no matter who they face.
“The Blue Dream Continues,” wrote Le Figaro after a night of celebrations by fans who poured into the streets after the 1-0 win over Belgium, watched by 19 million according to French broadcaster TF1.
“Didier Deschamps is still on track to join Brazilian legend Mario Zagalle and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, the only two heroes who have reigned over planet football as both player and coach,” the broadsheet wrote.
Deschamps was captain when France won its first World Cup in 1998, a victory which sparked an outpouring of national pride and jubilation still vivid for millions.
“Les Bleus grabbed the Devils by the tail in a spectacular match,” wrote Le Parisien, confident the team is already “at the gates of paradise”.
No matter if they end up facing England or Croatia, “they’ll be the favourites for the ultimate title,” the paper claimed, dubbing the team “The Incredibles”.
“There’s no Zinedine Zidane but a bunch of great players surrounded by good players. It’s more of a team, a collective instead of a group gathered around a genius.”
“There’s still one match to go, but they’ve got a freeway in front of them and no more toll booths,” Yeo Mariba, the mother of midfielder Paul Pogba, told the paper while leaving the stadium in Saint Petersburg.
Sports daily L’Equipe, hailing the team’s “spectacular mastery of the ball and strategy, also said a second “star” was in reach.
“A second star which would propel them into another galaxy, that of repeat world champions, alongside Italy, Uruguay, Brazil, Germany and Argentina,” it said.
Papers also lavished praise on Samuel Umtiti, a player more used to blocking goals than scoring the one that knocked Belgium out of the running on Tuesday.
“It’s a player who’s injured, getting treatment every day since he landed in Russia, who has opened the doors to the finals,” wrote Liberation.
President Emmanuel Macron, who attended Tuesday’s match, plans to return to Russia for the final with his wife Brigitte on Sunday, his office told AFP on Wednesday.
“We’re in the final. Rendez-vous Sunday to bring it home,” the president, a football lover, tweeted.