At the foot of the pyramids of Giza, Guillaume Gille, the coach of the France team, thought he had found the Rosetta Stone of French handball. Picked cold a year ago at the Euro, unrecognizable during a double confrontation against Serbia in early January, the Blues offered a whole different face during the first round of the Egyptian World Cup (from January 13 to 31).
After a victory full of authority against Norway, favorite of the competition, and a logical and controlled success against Austria, the Blues however played to scare themselves Monday, January 18 against Switzerland (25-24), invited to the last minute in Egypt to replace the United States team, forced to forfeit due to many cases of Covid. Drafts, Guillaume Gille’s men, who often stumbled over Nikola Portner, the excellent Swiss goalkeeper, owed their salvation only to reflex stops from Vincent Gérard in a stifling end of the match.
A guilty release on the part of Blues already qualified for the main round of the competition? “A booster shot, corrects the French coach in a hoarse voice. The Swiss derailed us, we lost a lot of duels, we lacked rhythm in attack, aggressiveness and concentration ”. The analysis shows that the French team – which lost Wesley Pardin, the hero of the match against the Norwegians – to injury – is doing better but is still recovering.
“We were not proud of what we were doing”
With this victory without shining, the Blues are however full of points (4) before attacking the main round – the points obtained against the teams of the group also qualified are preserved. They can afford a wild card, against Algeria (Wednesday), Iceland (Friday) or Portugal (Sunday). Not sure that they really need or want it: the defeat against the Lusitanians at Euro 2020 is in everyone’s mind. In short, we do not see how the Blues could not reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
However, Guillaume Gille’s men kept a low profile when they arrived in Giza. “We didn’t necessarily arrive with a lot of confidence”, admitted the pivot Ludovic Fabregas after the match against Norway; “We weren’t proud of what we were doing”, agreed Kentin Mahé. Blame it on two poor performances against the Serbs in qualifying for Euro 2022 (defeat in Serbia, draw in the return). The coach then thought the France team more “Army” to defend.
You have 59.42% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.