Defending champion Denmark and record champion France are in the final of the Handball World Championship. Denmark qualified for Sunday’s final in Stockholm with a 26:23 (15:10) win against Spain, who came second in the European Championship. In the second semi-final, the Olympic champion and six-time world champion from France prevailed against European champion Sweden with 31:26 (16:12).
In front of 19,128 spectators in the Stockholm Arena, the Équipe Tricolore, where the German team had already failed in the quarter-finals, impressively demonstrated their class. Unimpressed by the noisy crowd, coach Guillaume Gille’s team opened up to four goals in the final stages of the first half and did not allow the Swedes, who were sorely missing the injured playmaker Jim Gottfridsson on the field, to come close. Flensburg’s Gottfridsson broke his left hand in the quarterfinals against Egypt. He was sitting in the stands with a blue cast around his arm and was hoping in vain to catch up.
The Danes overcome an atypical phase of weakness
In the other semi-final between Denmark and Spain, led by German referees Robert Schulze and Tobias Tönnies, the defending champions were the better team for a long time. With a 4-0 run in the final minutes of the first half, the Danes, where Simon Pytlick was the top scorer with six goals, created what appeared to be a reassuring cushion at the break.
Even after the change, everything initially went according to plan. With 20 minutes remaining, the five-goal lead continued. But then the team of former Bundesliga coach Nikolaj Jacobsen failed to score for almost nine minutes. The Spaniards – European champions in 2018 and 2020 – took advantage of the weak phase and came within a goal. In the closing stages, however, the Danes straightened up and scored four in a row; that was the preliminary decision. The Spaniards, who eliminated Norway in a dramatic quarter-final after two extra hours, did not give up. However, the last chance of a turnaround was thwarted by Denmark’s goalkeeper Magnus Landin from the German record champions THW Kiel, who saved a seven-meter penalty in the final minute when the score was 25:23.