A weakened and experimental French handball team in Europe

As in the 2019 World Championships and 2021 Olympic qualifiers, Nikola Karabatic and the French handball team face Croatia in Euro 2022 qualifiers.

“Unsinkable” soon after “Barjots”, “Strong” and “Experts”? If the 2021 summer Tokyo Olympic champion French handball team can win a medal at the European Championships (Hungary and Slovakia, 13-30 January 2022), it fully deserves this new moniker, too bad news is in He built up on the way closer to this game.

The first was Covid-19, the invitation to attend in recent weeks, which prevented several players from joining the Blues’ training camp. In the last case so far, captain Valentine Porter was held in solitary confinement after testing positive for PCR on January 6, before being able to find the Blues after testing negative on January 11.

Also read Tokyo 2021: French men’s handball team returns to Olympus

Result: The status of the players raises further questions as only one Test match can be organised, Sunday 9 January, against Germany (beaten 35-34) with a planned match against Egypt due to several Covid-19 cases in Egypt side.

Firstly, “Many powerful elements of the group are missing”, as previously mentioned, Friday, January 7, with coach Guillaume Gill. If Luc Abalo and Michaël Guigou’s absences are on the record, their retirements are announced after Tokyo, with injuries wrapped in an avalanche, it’s not planned. But it’s about major players like Nedim Remili, Jean-Jacques Acquevillo, Timothey N’Guessan, Luka Karabatic. Or Elohim Prandi, for his part, attacked with a knife on New Year’s Eve night.

‘Worrying’ package

So this is a weaker French team and an experimental composition due to circumstances, attacking a game that has been hailed as the toughest in major international competitions. “In Europe, there is never an easy game. The level is very tight because the best teams in the world are European teams”, Nikola Karabatic recalled that he was the head of the Blues (37) and the most successful player in French handball history.

If the French team has been at the Olympics for 15 years (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Tokyo 2021, Rio 2016 silver), then the European Championship will not be the case. The Blues certainly won the competition three times (2006, 2010 and 2014), but in 2020 they failed to make it through the first round, being beaten by Portugal and Norway.

“The withdrawal of Nedim Remili and Luka Karabatic, the two pillars of the Olympic champion team, is most worrying”, estimated Jerome Fernandez, former captain of The Expert. Nedim Remili, 26, is a Paris Saint-Germain centre-back, a valuable left-hander whose interpretation of the game is a true attacking conductor. In Tokyo, his complicity with another southpaw, Dika Mem, has been one of the team’s strengths.

To replace him, Guillaume Gill could try to have Nikola Karabatic as the playmaker, risking weakening his attack on the left as Timothy Nguessan and Elohim Puran Dee’s wrapped and bald. To confuse opposing defenses, coaches may also try to use a left-hander as a central defender. In this case, Melvyn Richardson or Dika Mem can take on new responsibilities.

Relying on the “Golden Generation”

Defensively, the Blues’ usual strength, Ludovic Cesc Fabregas will have to form a strong defensive hub with him in Tokyo without Luka Karabatic. Recently named vice-captain, Nikola Karabatic’s younger brother (33) has been an important part of the Blues’ defence over the years. Without him, Habs suffered a crushing defeat at Euro 2020, which led to the departure of coach Didier Dinet.

Guillaume Gille could try to throw Karl Konan (26), who has only one blue option, into the abyss. He could also give up his flat “6-0” defense for a “5-1” defense, where a player comes out of the line to harass the opposing ball handler.

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On the target, there is more uncertainty. Influenced by a family drama just before Christmas, Vincent Gerrard finally decided to play in the Euros, but didn’t seem to be in the best position to lead the team as he did in Tokyo. The second goalkeeper position should be Remy Desbonne (5 caps) or Wesley Paddin (22 caps). They don’t offer the same guarantees as Vincent Gerrard (123 caps in blue) when he’s in full possession in a position where experience is usually crucial.

“The history of the French team has at times led to withdrawals in search of new solutions. She has enough resources to compete,” However, Jérôme Fernandez thinks.The Blues in particular can count on them “Golden Generation”players born in 1996-1997 (Dika Mem, Ludovic Fabregas, Melvin Richardson and Romain Lagarde) play at the best clubs in Europe and already have impressive Impressive record, including Tokyo Olympic champion.

Also read Handball World Cup: Melvin Richardson as prodigy flies

The Euros will also provide minutes for new faces and test the depth of France’s talent pool in light of the 2024 Paris Olympics. But, at the same time, on this euro, “Les grOur favourites are the Spaniards, the defending champions and the Danes, they are always strong,” Striker Nikola Karabatic.For Jerome Fernandes, despite the vagaries of recent weeks, France can Aim for the podium ».

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