European Championship.France-Sweden, the same half as last year’s World Championships


A generationThe French men’s team is still alive at the European Championships after the suspense against Denmark (30-29) in Hungary on Wednesday, in the semi-final against Sweden, the hangman for the 2021 World Championships, on Friday (8.30pm). ) in Budapest.

it’s a victory “This will be remembered for a long time”, Nicola Karabatic said. It’s hard to imagine handball fans talking about anything else the day after the hero qualifying game, seeing the joy of the Blues, not even Dikamem’s winner two minutes later, not smiling. Goalkeeper Vincent Gerrard quietly assured him on Thursday: “You start to get used to the adrenaline rushing and falling back. ».

Without the Covid-positive Nicolas Tournat or Kentin Mahé, the French have undoubtedly written a beautiful page in their long history. They had to get results in the Danes, who had already qualified and were rested without Mickel Hansen, and they reversed what seemed to escape them (-5 in 46th). “We yelled at each other, we encouraged each other. If we lost, it was because we gave everything and in the second half, that’s what happened. 15 minutes to the end, minus five, but we always believe it”announced Captain Valentin Porte at the end of the meeting. “Nothing can stop us”it is estimated that Eric Matt, who was elated after the game, the coach remained isolated in the absence of coach Guillaume Gill.

“We yelled at each other, we encouraged each other. If we lost, it was because we gave everything…” Valentine Potter, Captain

But already the Swede is looming on the road to a fourth European title. They have been dominant (32-26) at the same stage of the 2021 World Cup almost a year ago today. “We are far from their level”Karabatic recalled doing the part at home after suffering a serious cruciate ligament injury in his knee in 2020. “I feel bad for my friends to be in the final four and go home with a chocolate medal. It will be an extra motivation. »

absent, and not least

Les Bleus have not reached the continental semi-finals since 2014, the year they last won. “It’s going to be a miracle game”, Gerrard joked, referring to the equally tight qualification of their night opponents, while the Norwegians (24-23), a day earlier. In fact, Jim Gottfriedson’s partner had a four-goal lead with 15 minutes remaining.

If the French still have to reinvent themselves in the face of the coronavirus wave without Tournat, and maybe Mahé, too, because they will be stripped of Lucas Sandel, who is Author of 16 achievements since the tournament began, he was confirmed positive. Five other players, including top scorer Hampus Varney (41) and Nicolas Eckberg, were also declared in solitary confinement. Finally, Andreas Palicka and Felix Claar remain uncertain after being declared Covid carriers on January 23.

Coach Guillaume Gill: ‘We arrive when the story is written’

The victory over Denmark had its drama. How to explain the mental strength of this French team?

“Since this adventure started, the mentality has been very good, both at work and at play. The reflection is simple: either we can bring these Danes into the age of money and reverse the balance of power in a game that seems to escape us , or we’re home. I think there’s a lot of good things going on in survival energy when they feel like they’ve done their job. »

You are still isolated due to the coronavirus, how did you experience this part from a distance?

“I admit that we managed to make some noise between the rooms, between the Covid-19 (Nicolas Turnat and Kentine Mahe were also in solitary confinement). When we came back there were already some shouts, Came from my room and the adjoining room. It’s kind of a remote covid joint. It’s frustrating to live in front of your TV, for sure, because in this game, we plan with us The plan made the opposite of the intention to start the game. There was a lot of frustration in this part, but in the second half, it flew away. »

What do you think of this semi-final against Sweden?

“We will be facing a great opponent who also has his own problems and is affected by the virus. We have an excellent fleet in front of us.

Avenging the 2021 World Cup semi-final (beaten 26-32)? The half tomorrow (Friday) will not give back the one we lost in Egypt a year ago. It’s time to write a story. For a few years, our opponents are once again an elite nation with a very talented young generation. But the context is different. At the time we were at the stage of controlling the group and there was uncertainty. We arrived with a bit of a shortage of energy and fuel and we negotiated badly in this half with Sweden, which dominated us in all areas. Today, we’re focusing on the event we’re going to experience”

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