The seventh crown will wait. The Blues fell on stronger in the final of the Handball World Cup, beaten Sunday January 29 in Stockholm (34-29) by Denmark which, after having raced in the lead from start to finish, offered an unprecedented hat-trick.
The Swedish capital seems somehow cursed for French handball. Bad wink of history, it is already there, just next to the Tele 2 Arena where the French suffered the law of Denmark, that the pioneers of 1993 had lost in the final of the World Cup, against the Russia.
Sunday evening’s defeat will probably have a different taste for the Blues 2023, who were looking for gold and nothing else on Swedish soil, a year and a half after winning the Olympic title in Tokyo, against these same Danes (25- 23).
But, after their 2019 and 2021 titles, the Scandinavians took their revenge to write history with a world hat-trick that had never been achieved. The Blues had twice missed this mark (2009 and 2011 then 2015 and 2017) in the time of the “Experts”, who therefore await their successors on the World Cup list.
No more world titles since 2017
Because apart from the golden parenthesis of Tokyo, the French team has not won a title since the world championship at home in 2017. The band of Guillaume Gille, promoted alone at the helm after the departure of Didier Dinart in the stride of the Euro 2020 fiasco (elimination in the first round), had fallen off the podium at the 2021 World Cup and then at Euro 2022.
She is there this time but not on the top step for the tenth and last world championship of Nikola Karabatic. At 38, the handball legend started the match, despite a still painful left foot.
But he joined the bench after fifteen minutes, witnessing the superiority of the Danes, thanks to their speed of passing, movement and their triple trigger on the back base, composed of Simon Pytlick (9 goals), Mathias Gidsel (6 ) and Rasmus Lauge (10). The latter was particularly badly hurt in the second half.
Overwhelmed at the start of the match
The Blues were overwhelmed from the start of the match before gradually rectifying the situation. In defense and attack, led by Nedim Remili (5 goals at the break, 6 in total) and effective relays, like Elohim Prandi (3/3), in place of Nikola Karabatic, or Valentin Porte, came opportunely to “close”, on his wing, to provoke a Danish force passage (28th).
Just behind at the break (15-16), returned to height at the restart (16-16), they gave in around the 45th minute, conceding five goals to score only two and find themselves trailing 30-26 at the start. 53rd minute.
While the Danish incumbent goalkeeper Niklas Landin, double best player in the world in title, was expected at the turn, it was his replacement, Kevin Moller who distinguished himself in the « money time ».
The guards pass by
The goalkeeper showered the last hopes of French victory by making his only three saves in the last ten minutes, including one on a shot from Yannis Lenne (27-30, 55th) then another in front of Melvyn Richardson on penalty (29-32, 58th). Opposite, the French goalkeepers (4/25 for Vincent Gérard, 3/16 for Rémi Desbonnet) never knew how to find the parade against the Danish gunners.
Guillaume Gille’s team, decimated by injuries before the tournament (seven withdrawals) then during, with a featherless left-back position throughout the final phase, will have to wait at least another year to find gold. Appointment is made for Euro 2024.