The Blues and the Blue are fixed.
And the draw for the Tokyo Olympics (scheduled for July 24 to August 8), held this Thursday morning in Basel, at the IHF headquarters, will probably not make them laugh.
As suggested by the composition of the pots, Guillaume Gille's players have indeed inherited the group of death, confirming that this competition is the most difficult to win.
Sacred champions in 2008 and 2012, the Habs, who will try to regain the most precious Olympic metal after the silver medal in Rio in 2016, will have to face strong adversity from the outset. Placed in group A, they will begin their tournament against two tough South American opponents: Argentina on Saturday July 24 and Brazil on Monday July 26.
Then things will get tough with duels against known European neighbors.
They will notably face Spain, crowned European champion in 2018 and 2020, and which deprived France of a bronze medal at the World Cup in Egypt at the start of the year, or Germany, European champion in 2016.
A duel at the top against Norway
This first round will end on August 1 with a duel at the top against Norway by Sander Sagosen, vice-world champion in 2017 and 2019.
To advance to the quarter-finals, the French will have to take one of the first four places in this group.
Currently in the recovery phase after his right knee operation in November (rupture of the cruciate ligament of the knee), Nikola Karabatic and his partners are warned.
They will not have the right to make mistakes.
In the other group of this first phase, Denmark, double reigning world champion (2019, 2021), was spared by the draw.
He will find Sweden for a rematch of the final of the World Cup-2021, Portugal, Japan, Egypt and Bahrain.
The quarter-finals are scheduled for Tuesday 3 August, the semi-finals on Thursday 5 August, the final and the match for 3rd place being played on Saturday 7 August.
The French teams' group program 🏆
For you, the most beautiful posters of this first round?
🤔 #BleuetFier #DirectionTokyo pic.twitter.com/4RuUrK4dAM
- French Handball Teams (@FRAHandball) April 1, 2021
Their female counterparts, who will try to win Olympic gold, the only title missing from their record, were hardly spared by the draw.
2003 and 2017 world champions, they will notably find Russia - reigning Olympic champion after a victory in the final against… France (22-19) - in the first round (23 July-8 August).
Siraba Dembélé's teammates, silver medalists at Euro 2020 in December in Denmark, will also face Spain, Sweden, Hungary and Brazil.
They will have to take one of the first four places to continue the adventure.
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The quarter-finals are scheduled for Wednesday August 4, the semi-finals on Friday August 6 and the final and the match for 3rd place will be played on Sunday August 8, the day of the closing ceremony.