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Handball World Cup: with a steel mind, France dreams of a final


Despite numerous injuries and an unstable game, the France team is well present in the last four where Sweden awaits this Friday (9:00 p.m.).

Even if everything was not perfect, we made it.

Mentally we were strong.

We drew on a lot to come back to this game that got off to a bad start, but we showed a lot of character.

“Whether Nikola Karabatic or Ludovic Fabregas, all the Blues agreed on one point on Wednesday evening, after overthrowing Germany (35-28) in the quarter-finals of the World Cup: this French team has mental strength unshakeable.

Which allows him to overcome all obstacles, to recover from everything, to reverse unfavorable balance of power within the meetings.

As was the case in the last match of the main round when Spain led by three goals at the start of the second half, before biting the dust (28-26).

And as was the case in the quarter-finals against the Germans, who stormed into the match by taking a four-point lead (7-11) after a quarter of an hour of play. "

wear and tear

“, in the words of Kentin Mahé.

To discover

  • The complete schedule and results of the Handball World Cup

  • The 2023 Handball World Cup rankings

This ability to never let go should prove very valuable this Friday (9:00 p.m., TF1 and BeIN Sport), when challenging Sweden, reigning European champions, in the semi-finals, at home, in its majestic stadium covered with 20,000 places in Stockholm.

A Scandinavian formation which deprived the Blues of the final two years ago, during the World Cup in Egypt (32-26 victory in the semi-finals), then again in Budapest a year ago at the Euro (success 34 -33, still in half).

Suffice to say that no one in the French ranks imagines bowing their spine a third time in a row at this stage of the competition.

On the strength of their seven victories in seven matches so far – like the Swedes -, the Tokyo Olympic champions dream of winning a… seventh star,

they who already hold the record with six world crowns.

A performance that would be all the more impressive since nothing has been spared the coach of the Blues, Guillaume Gille, for a month…

A host of absentees, but...

Thus, when developing his group for this World Championship, the former member of the Experts had to deal with multiple absences due to injuries: Hugo Descat, Timothey N'Guessan, Karl Konan, Aymeric Minne, Benoît Kounkoud, Wesley Pardin , Kyllian Villeminot… Far from stopping there, physical glitches have continued to dog him since the start of the competition.

Between the abs of Dika Mem, the left foot of Nikola Karabatic, the back of Luka Karabatic or the right hand of Thibaud Briet, the French coach has never been able to field the same team from one match to another.

But that didn't stop the blue-white-red ship from moving forward, under full sail and against the wind.

Proof, if need be, of the formidable pool of talent available to France in the discipline,

Substitutes who score a lot

Just look at the statistics of the Blues since the start of the World to better realize it.

No other last-four side have two substitutes – Kentin Mahé (30 goals) and Nicolas Tournat (26 goals) – as top scorers, although Mahé's status has changed and his playing time swelled with Dika's absence Mem during four meetings.

Similarly, France do not have a single player in the Top 20 top scorers, a sign that the danger comes from everywhere with seven players having scored at least 20 goals, a unique distribution of its kind.

Sweden, for comparison, has only five.

And among these seven, we find Thibaud Briet (20 goals) and Melvyn Richardson (23 goals), two residents of the bench.

Whose depth seems inexhaustible.

Towards a headache for Guillaume Gille for Paris 2024?

Qualified for the fifth time in a row for the last four of a World Cup, the Blues seem – like the hydra which sees each of its severed heads grow back immediately – to be able to regenerate indefinitely.

So much so that Guillaume Gille could experience a real headache in a year and a half, when he will have to announce his list of "


» 14 players for the Paris Olympics.

If by chance the 18 at his disposal win the title on Sunday evening and the 7-8 injured return to 100%, the coach should have to make difficult choices.

A rich man's problem which he will gladly put up with.

But before that, the Blues want to take their (double) revenge on Sweden, which will have to compose without its playing master Jim Gottfridsson, to play an 8th world final, either against Denmark or against Spain on Sunday.

And as they have won the last six in which they took part, them the unsinkable ones, that would offer good prospects...

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2023-01-26

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