Handball: the Blue are really on the attack before the semi-final of the World Cup



It becomes a habit. The French handball players are again in the last four of a great competition. After a convincing demonstration against the Swedes in the quarter-finals (31-26), the Blue continued on the momentum of their triumph at the Olympic Games by inviting themselves to the semi-final of the World Cup, against Denmark, on Friday, December 17. They have reached this level for the seventh time in the last eight international competitions they have played. A real success.

→ ANALYSIS. Handball: the Blue want to impose their law on the world championship

It must be said and repeated. So the trainer Olivier Krumbholz takes care of it: “We have to do pedagogy all the time to explain that being there is not obvious. That it is an endlessly renewed, monstrous job, with exceptional girls. “ It was indeed not easy to bounce back from the Olympic title, and a decompression that emptied the team as well as the management. But the collective has been able to draw on its resources to set out again in conquest more beautiful.

Lightning counterattacks

Because on solid foundations, we can rebuild faster. And the basis of the France team is an iron defense, an ability to stifle opposing inclinations. Aptitude verified against Russia to complete the main round (33-28), or against the Swedes, physically affected and put under the snuffer in the second part of the match. To this mastery, the Blue added a new offensive ease. “We have a lot more plasticity in defense than in attack, we are known for that. But we are working tactically to better oil the suits in front, and a click occurred in the middle of the Olympic tournament. The end of the competition was more successful, and we remain in this dynamic at this World Cup. We show more fluidity in attack, on collective movements that we repeat often. “

The players benefit in particular from their physical excellence to offer themselves very fast lifts of the ball. As soon as the latter is recovered, a blue wave unfolds, the ball flies from hand to hand until, in a few seconds, an opening solution is found on the opposing goal. “We paid particular attention to this kind of counter-attack, because we had identified a deficiency in this area during the Games., continues the coach. Now it is a weapon that we have mastered. “

In this register, Grace Zaadi, the “Ambition leader” (dixit Krumbholz) of the band is distinguished by playing the launching pad. At 28, the center-half who has already won everything (the World Cup in 2017, the Euro in 2018 and the Games this summer) is the metronomic hub of the Blue. Imperial in defense, she has been perfectly inspired since the start of the competition to break through the opponent’s safe, also finding, through her precise passes, the pivot Pauletta Foppa. Indispensable, the master at playing? “It’s a small downside: she played a lot”, admits Olivier Krumbholz.

Still a little waste when shooting

No panic though. The bench depth is the other major asset of this team. It is in its ability to rotate the workforce without affecting performance that the team also forges its certainties. The return from injury of Orlane Kanor for example (victim of a ruptured Achilles tendon in April 2021), called at the last minute in the middle of the competition, is timely to bring his science of long range shooting to the Blue. Because if the attacking potential has improved, there is still this waste on shooting, visible in the first half against Sweden.

The lack of gunboats remains a weak point for Les Bleues. “In this area, it is on training that we must focus, on an individual technique no doubt to be better refined among young people, because it is not in the France team that we have the time. to work on shooting, says Olivier Krumbholz. We are focusing on tactical preparation. “

However, it will be necessary to fire everything against the Danes on Friday, past masters in the art of weaving barbed wire (read below). Can the beautiful blue offensive mechanics get stuck? “Against them, if we have a single weak sector, it will not work”, warns Olivier Krumbholz. Condemned to excellence, the Blue. As per usual.

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Beware of the Danes

The Blue will meet in the semi-final, Friday December 17 at 5.30 p.m., the Danes against whom they remain on three victories: during the first phase of Euro 2020 (23-20), and in March 2021 in preparation matches at the Tokyo Games to which the Scandinavian team was not invited (26-22 and 24-23). But also drags in the memories of the French this wicked defeat at the 2019 World Cup (18-20) which sealed their traumatic elimination in the first round. Les Bleues know that the debates will be heated, and that they will have to work to overcome a rough defense and especially the two Danish goalkeepers, Sandra Toft and Althea Reinhardt, who have the best save percentages in the competition.

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