France, strong with a steel mind, dreams of the final
Despite numerous injuries and erratic play, France are in good shape for the last four, where Sweden awaits this Friday (9pm).
“Although not everything was perfect, we managed. We were mentally strong.» «We drew a lot to come back from a bad start, but we showed a lot of character.“Whether it was Nikola Karabatic or Ludovic Fabregas, all the blues agreed on one thing on Tuesday after defeating Germany (35-28) in the quarter-finals of the World Cup: this France team has an indomitable mental strength. This allows him to overcome all obstacles, get rid of everything, restore the unfavorable balance of power within meetings. As in the last match of the main round, Spain took a three-goal lead early in the second half (28-26). Like in the quarter-final game against the Germans, who attacked the match with four points (7-11) after a quarter of an hour of play.”wear out“, in the words of Kentin Mahen.
The ability to never let go should prove invaluable when the reigning European champions take on Sweden in the semi-finals at home in their magnificent 20,000-capacity stadium this Friday (9pm, TF1 and BeIN Sport). Stockholm. Two years ago, during the World Cup in Egypt (32-26 victory in the semi-finals), then again a year ago in Budapest at the Euros (34-33 success, still), the Scandinavian structure deprived the “blues” of the final. half). Suffice it to say, no one in the French ranks envisions a third consecutive spine bend at this stage of the competition. On the strength of seven wins in seven games so far – like the Swedes – the Tokyo Olympic champions are now aiming for a record seventh star with six world crowns. A performance that will be all the more impressive as Blues coach Guillaume Gille spares nothing in a month…
Many layoffs, but…
Thus, while developing his group for this World Championship, the former member of the Experts had to miss several times due to injuries: Hugo Descat, Timothey N’Guessan, Carl Conan, Aymeric Minne, Benoît Kounkoud, Wesley Pardin , Kyllian Villeminot… More than stopping there away, physical handicaps continued to elude him since the race began. Between Dika Mem’s abs, Nikola Karabatic’s left leg, Luka Karabatic’s back or Thibaut Briet’s right hand, the French coach has never been able to lead the same team from one match to the next. However, this did not prevent the blue-white-red ship from advancing under full sail and against the wind. Evidence, if necessary, of the huge talent pool available in France and the quality of the training provided there, with multiple titles – for example the 2015 and 2019 under-21 world champions – and youth categories on the podium.
Substitutes who score a lot of goals
To better understand this, look at the statistics of the Blues since the beginning of the world. None of the bottom four teams have two substitutes – Kentin Mahe (30 goals) and Nicolas Tournat (26 goals) – top scorers, although Mahe’s status has changed and his playing time has increased with Dick’s Mem absent during the four matches. Similarly, France do not have a single player in the Top 20 top scorers list, a sign that the threat comes from everywhere, with seven players scoring at least 20 goals, a unique distribution. By comparison, Sweden has just five. And among these seven, we find the two inhabitants of the bench, Thibaud Briet (20 goals) and Melvyn Richardson (23 goals). Whose depth seems inexhaustible. Real hero of the fight against Germany and able to replace Vincent Gerard with a 42% stoppage, Rémi Desbonnet is also a reliable observation in the goal post (second best rate of the competition).
Heading for a headache for Guillaume Gille for Paris 2024?
The Blues, who qualified for the last four of the World Cup for the fifth time in a row, seem to be able to regenerate indefinitely, like a hydra seeing each of its severed heads grow back immediately. So much so that Guillaume Gille can have a real headache for a year and a half, then he will have to announce his list “only» 14 players for Paris Olympics. If the 18 at his disposal happen to win the title on Sunday night and 7-8 return to 100% with injuries, the coach will have to make tough choices. A problem that a rich man would gladly put up with. But before that, the Blues want (double) revenge on Sweden, who will have to compose without playmaker Jim Gottfridsson to play the 8th world final against Denmark or Spain on Sunday. Having won their last six appearances, they won’t go down, which would give good prospects…