Weakened by the absence of Timothey N’Guessan and Luka Karabatic, the French handball team saw its dream of a title fly away at the World Cup in Egypt, beaten in the semi-final by a young and talented Sweden (26-32 ), Friday January 29 in Cairo. Twenty years after its last final, Sweden will face Denmark or Spain on Sunday to try to win a fifth title and make up half of its delay over France (6 crowns) at the top of the list.
The Blues have not yet finished with their Egyptian campaign, which will remain successful in the event of a podium. This will go through a success on the loser of the Spain – Denmark match, and therefore a bronze medal in this first World Cup with 32 teams and behind closed doors.
– France Hand teams (@FRAHandball) January 29, 2021
A third place would be a great reward for Guillaume Gille, appointed coach in January 2020 in the wake of the historic elimination in the first round of the Euro. For a group that came to Egypt without the icon Nikola Karabatic, injured in his right knee in October, and who lost along the way goalkeeper Wesley Pardin, injured against Switzerland, as well as left-back Timothey N’Guessan and the pivot Luka Karabatic, affected in the quarterfinals against Hungary.
The prejudicial absence of the Karabatic brothers
Without Karabatic or great goalkeeper at the rendezvous, the Blues first sank in defense. In attack, they fell to a great Andreas Palicka. In a high-flying start to the match as on Michaël Guigou’s kung fu for Dika Mem (3-4), the Swedes took a first advantage thanks to Jonathan Carlsbogard and Daniel Petersson, completely off-center on the wing to deceive Vincent Gérard (4-6).
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With a strict defense, the French responded with two goals in quick succession, including a superb roucoulette, from Luc Abalo (7-6) who thus made up for a previous exclusion. But the Swedish defense slipped perfectly and recovered the balls, when it was not Andreas Palicka who stopped them. And Felix Claar increased the lead for the Scandinavians (8-12).
Guillaume Gille then moved the lines: exit the leader Kentin Mahé and goalkeeper Vincent Gérard, as well as left-back Romain Lagarde, with insufficient support and replaced by Nedim Remili, Yann Genty and Jean-Jacques Acquevillo.
Having become an option at the center-half during the tournament, Remili kept the Blues afloat with two entry goals (10-12) and by bringing more depth in the attacks. But the Swedes, carried by the counter-attacks and a few individual exploits like that of Hampus Wanne on the left wing, remained in front, galvanized by the fantastic stop of Palicka – right foot at 2 m high, at the bar. – on Valentin Porte, just before the break (13-16).
Red card for Adrien Dipanda
The absence of Karabatic clearly weakened the defense of the Blues, often perforated in the axis. At the break, Sweden only missed one shot (16/17) while the French, countered by Palicka (7 saves) posted a low percentage of 54% in attack. Often in this World Cup, the Blues managed to gain the upper hand at the start of the second period. Not this time. Palicka did not slow down, neither did Wanne and Jim Gottfridsson increased the Scandinavian lead to 5 goals (18-23).
Remili did try to sound the revolt but was too lonely: Gille tried all the combinations, including the substitute Nicolas Claire, author of the goal of hope (20-23, 45e), or by bringing Gérard back in place of Genty. But each time, the Swedes replied (21-25) to keep a good margin in advance.
Only Descat (4/4) regularly found the net. Remili ended up lowering the pace, while the opponent played at his own pace (22-26). With Adrien Dipanda’s red card, a walk from Claire and a missed shot from Mem, their luck had passed (24-28, 24e). With a splendid defensive return from Gottfridsson who had just lost the ball, Sweden had a quiet end to the game.