The French, beaten by the Danes, make the appointment in 2024
The French handball players knew this: it is difficult to stop the Vikings in search of gold. After a fierce battle, Guillaume Gille’s men lost to a brilliant Denmark team (34-29) in the World Cup final in Stockholm on Sunday 29 January. Leading the race from start to finish, the Scandinavians offered an unprecedented hat-trick against the team that defeated them in the final of the Olympic Games in Tokyo eighteen months ago. In the match for the third place, Spain prevailed over Sweden (36-39).
At the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, where Denmark’s supporters gathered in large numbers, the French team earned credit for not giving up after a disastrous start to the match. A blow to the leg, Nikola Karabatic, who played his last World Cup at the age of 38, decided to leave his partners after a quarter of an hour. The Habs, who were leading by five goals, managed to recover the score after returning from the locker room (16-16).
Like Ludovic Fabregas, sent off twice, the French defense, who had been imperious for two weeks, suffered in the face of Danish fury. Defenders Simon Pytlick (9 goals), Mathias Gidsel (6 goals) and Rasmus Lauge (10 goals) gave a recital. He hit the nail on the head in the last quarter of the last hour of the tournament. In comparison, the French offensive game relied heavily on the flashes of Nedim Remili and Dika Mem.
The failure of the French goalkeepers did the rest. With Kevin Moller and, above all, two-time world player of the year Niklas Landin, Denmark have arguably the best goalkeeping duo on the planet. Too often defeated by their defense, neither Vincent Gerard (4 saves out of 25 Danish shots) nor Remi Desbonnet (3 out of 16) could compete with the Scandinavian goalkeepers.
The defeat has a bitter taste for the “blues” fighting for the title. “It’s difficult to stop like this, one step away from the finish line! »Vincent Gérard commented. “We fell behind and couldn’t change the balance of power, but I’m proud of the boys’ attitude.” Guillaume Gill reacted. “I’m sure this group will come back. There are very good young players, hungry people. There will be other finals”– “Blues” captain Luka Karabatic added.
Despite this defeat, the “Blues” career has nothing to be ashamed of. Undefeated in the group stage, they defeated Poland (26-28) in Katowice in quick succession, Germany (35-28) in the quarter-finals and, above all, a great revenge against Sweden in the semi-finals (26-31). After two defeats at this stage of the competition against the same country in Stockholm, the 2021 World Cup and Euro 2022.
By the end, the Habs had shown real defensive toughness. There is a trio of world-class pivots in Luka Karabatic, Ludovic Fabregas and Nicolas Tournat. France are a rough team, tough to the point of pain, but they are also creative, especially with Dika Mem, arguably the best right-back on the planet.
In the playmaking position, France also has Guillaume Gille confident with a pair of players with very different profiles that offer many tactical options. Nedim Remili, who was selected as the best center half of the Tokyo Games in 2021, took another step in this competition and increased his class gestures. Less flamboyant but just as effective, his alter ego Kentin Mahé presents a more classic conductor profile, allowing his partners to play at the right tempo.
In goal, the duo of Vincent Gérard-Rémi Desbonnet did not reach the final, but the two players complement each other. The Blues’ second-choice goalkeeper proved to be better than the second-knife by making fourteen saves against Germany. The emergence of Charles Bolzinger, who is only 22 years old, also brings hope.
Despite having a seven-pack before the tournament, the depth of the tricolor bench is a problem. At 23, Thibaut Briet is establishing himself as the successor to Nikola Karapatic at left-back. When he injured his hand, Elohim knew how to handle Prandi. Coach Guillaume Gille, who rotated his team a lot, was able to take advantage of the wealth of manpower. “No country has such a reserve of players”Philippe Gardent believes, the pivot of “Barjots”.
Creating the list of French players selected for the Paris Games in 2024 will be a headache for Guillaume Gille, as it will only include fourteen names (compared to eighteen for the World Cup). Barring injury, Nikola Karabatic will probably be there for the last big match of his long career.
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With victories at the last three World Championships, Denmark will present themselves as favorites at the Paris Games in eighteen months. The French will seek revenge in public and aim for Olympic gold. “The difference between the best nations is small, Philippe Gardent notes. The French will be in the last four, but it would be disingenuous to think they will win just because they played in Paris. »