France all blue, white and red for World Cup final
PARIS — With concrete blocks painted blue, white and red, Paris police sealed off the French capital's most famous boulevard to traffic on Sunday in anticipation that it will flood with celebrating crowds if France beats Argentina to win its third World Cup title.
The Champs-Elysées and some surrounding streets were declared off-limits to vehicles until the early hours of Monday morning.
Fans painted blue, white and red stripes on their faces and squeezed into national jerseys as they gathered to watch the match, hoping that Les Bleus will defend the title they won in 2018 and become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win consecutive World Cups.
“Shall we do it again?” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.
French TV carried live images of the France team leaving its hotel in Qatar en route to the championship match and of the players arriving at Lusail Stadium.
Among them, a smiling Kylian Mbappé looked particularly relaxed. All of France — notably in Bondy, the Paris suburb where he grew up — is hoping to see Mbappe's feints, dribbles and shots make the difference against Lionel Messi’s team.
In Paris, the Metro operator marked the momentous occasion by temporarily renaming one of its stations, changing the stop “Argentina” to “Argentina-France, let’s go les Bleus!”
Players past and present sent messages of support.
“Playing a World Cup final is a childhood dream. Let’s go and get this third star! Allez les Bleus!” Zinedine Zidane posted on Instagram.
Striker Karim Benzema, the Ballon d’Or winner who missed this year's World Cup with a torn left-thigh muscle, posted: “The hour is come. All together. Let’s go.”
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports