Handball: France – Denmark in the final, a classic in four episodes
This Sunday, January 29, France and Denmark, the two best nations of the last fifteen years, meet for the fifth time in the final of a major tournament. At the World Cup, the Euro, and the Olympics, these two teams clashed each time to win gold. France leads 3-1 in the first four matches. Let’s take a look at the 4 finals that have marked this sport.
World Cup 2011: a masterpiece of tension
It is strange, but the first final between these two countries took place in Sweden, which should have already finished the World Cup. Not in Stockholm, as in 2023, but in Malmö. France, the Olympic champion in Beijing three years ago, is the favourite. This team includes Jérôme Fernandez, Thierry Omeyer, Didier Dinart, Luc Abalo, Michael Guigou. Nikola Karabatic is the only one still there after 12 years. On the contrary, there is already a young phenomenon, Mikkel Hansen, who has not yet joined PSG.
In a room devoted to the all-Danish cause – Malmö is only an hour from the border – the game is tight, indecisive. France leads at halftime (15-12), then with seconds left, Spellerberg swings a rocket that sends everyone into overtime. That extra ten minutes would benefit the French with Guigou’s last second goal to secure the victory (37-35). That day, France became the first country to win a fourth world championship since Romania in 1974: “I don’t understand. I am on cloud nine. At the end of the match, I asked my teammates if it’s very real, if it’s true that we’re still world champions? Nikola Karabatic admires.
Euro 2014: France defeated Denmark at home
The two competitors, who had the opportunity to face each other at other stages in various competitions, meet in the finals of the Euro organized by the Danes. France is still the Olympic champion, even though the London Games have been held since Malmö. The Blues won there again. Claude Onestan’s team was the best in the world until then. Nothing resists him. Not even Denmark. The Blues’ final was “pure masterpiece”, as our newspaper headlined the day after the huge 42-31 victory. Danes are eaten raw at home.
“It’s very simple, the French team played the best hand game I’ve ever seen in my life,” admitted Bo Spellerberg, a handsome player, the back of the Denmark selection. There were times when they even made us smile, everything they did was so beautiful! »
Olympics 2016: The Blues are dethroned
Not the best memory of French handball. On the morning of the Olympic final in Brazil, the Blues are looking for an amazing feat: winning a third Olympic gold medal in Beijing 2008 and London 2012. No one doubts that it will happen: France have now not lost a grand final since 1993. In the afternoon in Rio, Toni Yoka simultaneously plays in the Olympic heavyweight final, but that event goes to the final first. background.
Only nothing goes as planned: the Danes, tired of having the door slammed in their faces, deprive the blue-blacks of the Olympic title. Mikkel Hansen’s friends let loose and didn’t let the Blues breathe as they lost 28-26. The silver medal has a funny taste: “It’s the first failure, it’s hard, but losing in the final nine out of ten, it’s not bad for the oldest, is it? Relativizes Michael Guigou. For that reason alone, we can only be proud of what we did in Rio. We have done so many great things that we have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a sport. »
Olympics 2021: Olympic Revenge
The world tour of the France-Denmark final is taking place on the other side of the planet this time. Five years after Rio, the two find themselves in the Olympic final again, a testament to their impressive regularity at the highest level. Two-time world champions (2019, 2021) Denmark are favorites and there is no certainty in France, who have to go through the qualifying tournament to be on the road. On a day when the volleyball and basketball players were also in the finals of their respective tournaments, Guillaume Gille’s players were perfect and avenged Brazil’s disappointment 25-23.
The day of glory has arrived. Michael Guigou, Luc Abalo and Nikola Karabatic are Olympic champions for the third time and forever enter the pantheon of French sports: “Our defense was terrible against the Danes who came to hit us, says Kentin Mahe. But we answered every post. All the guys did a hell of a job. I’m really proud of them, but also proud to be a part of this adventure. This is a childhood dream come true. »
18 months after Tokyo, the French and Danes will return to the final on January 29 this year in Stockholm. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself on the same stage exactly 18 months later, at Paris 2024?