Handball fans will therefore be entitled in the semi-final of the World Cup to a vintage poster: a France-Sweden remake of the 1990s. A time when the Magnus Wislander gang dominated this sport without sharing (double world champions and quadruple champions of ‘Europe between 1990 and 2002), where the full-backs Stefan Lövgren and Staffan Olsson – and his long blond hair – pleaded the opposing defenses, before the Beef and the Experts drove the Scandinavians.
Wednesday January 27, in Egypt, the France team, after an unbreathable match and an extension against Hungary, forced the door to the last four of the World Cup (35-32). A VIP club from which it has only rarely been excluded for twenty years. The Blues now give an appointment for a place in the final of the competition, Friday at 5.30 p.m., to the Swedes, who have not made a mistake against Qatar (35-23).
But once again, it was hard for Guillaume Gille’s men, pushed into overtime by the Hungarians. Blame it on a catastrophic start to the match (led 7-1 then 9-3 after a quarter of an hour of play), like this incredible failure 6 m from Nedim Remili, during which the prophecy of Valentin Door – “I know we are capable of falling back into our faults”, he said the day before the match – almost came true.
The fault also with Roland Mikler, the excellent opposing goalkeeper (16 saves). “But the team did not give up, underlined the player from Montpellier, at the microphone of BeIn sports. Even at 9-3, I don’t feel the team panicking. This is good news for the future. ”
Guigou’s second youth
The other good news is the newfound youth of Michaël Guigou. The captain avoided the collective sinking by scoring half of his team’s goals in the first period (12-14 at the break). On the eve of his 39e birthday, the dean of the Blues offered himself the best of gifts by finishing top scorer of the match.
The bad news, however, is the injuries of Timothey N’Guessan (adductors), very visible against Portugal, and Luka Karabatic, the boss of the French defense. “We are paying a heavy price on this match”, deplores the coach Guillaume Gille. Not sure that we see the two men on the bench again by the end of the World Cup. It would be a big blow for the France team.
The end of the match could have been quiet for the Blues who, coming back to the score during the second half, still led by three goals a few minutes from the end of the match. And then suddenly the black hole. A succession of bad choices put the Magyars back in the game.
But it is written that this France team does not tremble in the moments when the ball weighs so heavy. She experienced it against Switzerland, Algeria and Iceland. At the final whistle, after 10 minutes of overtime, it is the delivery.
Valentin Wears: “In the locker room in Créteil, after our draw against Serbia (in January), we didn’t give a lot of our skin. If I had been told that we were going to make seven victories in seven matches, I would not have believed it. “
“The group was forged in pain, there are still many imperfections, but we have always known how to find the light, refuse defeat and continue to move forward”, for his part, congratulated the coach Guillaume Gille.
“France is one of the top three teams, and has excellent players. It will be very hard to face them ”(Swedish coach Glenn Solberg)
For their vintage semi-final, the Blues will have to be wary of Swedish youth. Deprived of its best elements, the Scandinavian selection lurked during the main round (two draws against Slovenia and Belarus) to take Qatar by the throat in the quarterfinals.
After a long crossing of the desert, the country is gradually regaining its stripes. The recent performances of its Danish and Norwegian neighbors have certainly thwarted its quest for renewal, but the team has been working with the same group since its silver medal at Euro 2018.
The majority of players cut their teeth in the German Bundesliga, the best league in Europe. Sweden has solid wing triggers, Lucas Pellas (25) on the left and Valter Chrintz (20) on the right, untenable against Qatar; a fortress keeper in the person of Andreas Palicka; and an experienced center-half with Jim Gottfridsson, crowned best player of Euro 2018.
“ France is one of the top three teams, and has excellent players. It will be very hard to face them, believes the Swedish coach, the former Norwegian international Glenn Solberg, never so delighted as in the position of the outsider. But we know that we are also a good team. “
France’s last defeat against Sweden dates back to the main round of Euro 2014, which the Experts ended up winning. In Egypt, Kentin Mahé and his teammates are determined to write their own story and only have the title in mind.
For this, they will have to leave the comfort of their hotel in Giza and the landmarks taken in the Hassan Moustafa room, direction the huge Cairo room which, behind closed doors, will ring hollow. And make sure that the “Reconstruction” of the French team seen at the foot of the pyramids is not just a mirage.