A reunion… already! Four months after having faced each other twice on the Olympic stage in Tokyo – in the main round and in the semi-finals – the French and Swedish handball players will fight again for the account, this time, of the world in Granollers ( Spain).
The Blue fulfilled their mission, Monday, December 13, by controlling Russia (33-28) in the last group match which allows them to win first place and avoid the Norwegian scarecrow in the quarter-finals.
In what vaguely looked like a remake of the Games final – the Russian team has changed a lot since Tokyo – the French women have once again stifled their opponent in defense, as they have become accustomed to since the start of the competition in the north of Barcelona. “We were in the right tempo, well prepared, smiling, lucid. All areas of the game worked well. The gap has gone up to nine, we let it slip a bit but that’s okay ”, rejoiced the coach of the Bleues, Olivier Krumbholz.
Five goals for Pineau
The French also added a nice offensive touch, carried by the right arm of Allison Pineau who was celebrating her 270e selection in the French team, becoming the fourth blue most capped tied with Camille Ayglon, and behind Isabelle Wendling (338), Dembélé (291) and Pecqueux-Rolland (289).
And it wasn’t a failure on a seven-meter throw early in the first period that distracted her, returning to the line afterwards. The Ljubljana full-back offered a real show in shooting and passing, unalterable for 30 minutes, with three goals including a penalty, three assists and no stray ball. She finished the game with five goals on the clock.
After a close start to the match, the Blue quickly made the difference against the Russians without a solution in attack. The second half was another demonstration of the collective strength of Coralie Lassource’s teammates, perfect on her right wing. With a favorable match physiognomy, Olivier Krumbholz was able to launch Orlane Kanor, the Metz player making her comeback after a rupture of the left Achilles tendon in mid-April. The 24-year-old Guadeloupe, absent in Tokyo, was able to score a goal in the last ten minutes.
“It should allow us to ventilate the game and find spaces at six meters because we will be more dangerous at six meters”, welcomed the coach, who has also recovered in his workforce Laura Flippes, aligned from the start after a sprained left ankle.
Spirit of revenge
This success, with again a very wide gap (they had won 11 goals against Slovenia, 10 goals against Angola and Poland), is the most successful since the start of the competition of the French, who arrive with the full of confidence in the quarter-finals, undefeated, with a defense extremely well in place, and an attack which begins to be well on the placed game, cute sin of the Blue on the first matches.
For a place in the last square, it is therefore regulars that the French will find on Wednesday at Granollers. The Swedes, held in check in the main round of the Olympics (28-28) but above all eliminated at the foot of the final by the Blue (29-27), will be keen to take their revenge.
Olivier Krumbholz’s players are aiming for a double in the space of four months, which only Danes (1996) and Norwegians (2008) managed to achieve (at the time a European Championship instead of a World). This path towards the third planetary coronation could take on strong Scandinavian accents, with French women placed in the middle of the Danish table. Before hoping to find in the final, the 2020 European champion Norway, who by beating the Netherlands on Wednesday eliminated, even before the quarter-finals, the reigning world champions.