Reunion Night, Yoyogi Stadium. Beneath the waves of the walled roof built for the 1964 Olympics, the announced duel delivered on its promise. On the biggest stage, France and Denmark have a chance to clear some accounts. The French men’s handball team won on Saturday 7 August in revenge for the last Olympic final (25-23) and won its third Olympic coronation with courage.
“We climbed high in this race, and in the end, we deserved the medal, Kentin Mahé said with a smile. Compared to Rio, we have no revenge, but it is important to us to win this medal, first for some and third in the legend for others. » The three of them achieved such results, “Three young men who helped the 2001 World Championships”, when Captain Michaël Guigou opened fire. Three won it all: Guigou, Luc Abalo and Nikola Karabatic.
The final was the last dance for the first two, so coach Guillaume Gill gave them a long hug after the final whistle. “When our comrades say goodbye, it’s normal for us to make time for them”commenting on French coach, now champion Olympic On the field and on the bench.
If these Blues have changed since the pundits came along (divine in Beijing and London, silver in Rio), then their old teams are indestructible. Nikola Karabatic, 37, is still there leading the French boat. The black-bearded veteran has no plans to compete in his fifth Olympics. He dropped his men, allowing France to add a new line to its impressive record. His shot midway through the second period proved it, and he completed a ball that hit Denmark goalkeeper Niklas Landing.
“We tickled them and finally tickled them and marbled them…”
“The sport is crazy”, a Japanese volunteer exclaimed. Authorized to occupy the stadium stands, like dozens of his comrades, he was surprised by the brutality of the shock. Anyone hoping for a loose match and goals from both teams has not paid attention to recent games. The two nations who know each other well, meet constantly, and share titles have exploited the slightest estrangement.
“We got them excited and got tickled at the end, marbled… We put in a lot of energy from the start of the game, we never let go, Picture center Ludovic Cesc Fabregas. We were fighting from start to finish. » In a cut-off place, with barbed wire pulled out from both lines of defense, it’s hard to pinpoint the fault. Even the crossbar suffered damage, being hit by Mickel Hansen’s missiles. But Guillaume Gill’s men gradually disengaged, carried away by Vincent Gerrard’s several consecutive parries and a defence that stifled the double world champions’ attack.
“The champion will belong to whoever has the most heart and who is ready to commit suicide on the court”, warned French winger Hugo Discart before the game. The Blues want it. Witnessing the action at the end of the first period when Michaël Guigou forced a conceded goal, Ludovic Fabregas swooped to get the ball back and serve the captain who scored alone. The lead will increase to six goals.
But with the French side missing two players – two temporary expulsions – Denmark is cannibalizing. After a few minutes, advance to melt. Close behind the Blues (22-21), the Danes came close as hunters in the final ten minutes. For their role, in the last Olympic final, France was the favorite. But Vincent Gérard intervened in their attempt to equalise.
‘We are in our bubble’
“The advantage of Covid is that we are in a bubble and we are able to work in peace”, expressed the French goalkeeper before the final. The author performed well in the semifinals, and he knew he was expected. Star Mikel Hansen surprised his partner for the second straight stop. He rejoiced when his replacement Yann Genty stopped the Danish playing maestro’s 7m throw on the headband.
But Nicklas Landing isn’t left out. The Danish goalkeeper beat the Frenchman’s attempt (14 saves) and sent shivers down the spines of the tricolour delegation members who cheered for the Blues in the stands. In a stifling match, France led by just one goal with a minute left. Nikola Karabatic returns the ball. The Blues’ third Olympic crown (25-23) must have been woven before the final iron defense.
The Blues have come a long way since their Euro 2020 qualifier exit and a disagreement with former coach Didier Dinet, and they are at full speed to rebuild themselves. “It wasn’t easy, we fought, we took advantage of our disappointments, our defeats, we were eliminated in the European group stage”concluded captain Mikhail Guigu, who had his final meeting with the Blues on Saturday. “All of this is clearing our minds and getting back to the top. » After four years without lifting any trophies – an eternity on the scale of this incredible generation – French handball is returning to its prime. “It will continue, Ghost dog warning. From the moment you win, you know you can do it. » Les Capables, a beautiful name for the team, and above all being able to hold the torch.
Our selection of articles about the 2021 Tokyo Olympics