the French handball players again severely beaten by the Norwegians in the semi-finals

The French Deborah Lassource and Laura Flippes, in tears, after the defeat of France against Norway, in the semi-final of the Women's Handball Euro, November 18, 2022.

There is no longer any doubt: even if they usually play in white, Norway is indeed the bane of the French women’s handball team. At the end of a disjointed and intense match, where the defenses took precedence over the attacks for a long time, the Norwegians once again beat the Habs by a score without appeal (28-20), Friday, November 18, in Ljubljana, in Slovenia, in the semi-finals of the European Championship.

At the previous Euro, played in Denmark in 2020, the Nordiques had already beaten France (22-20 in the final). But it is rather the final of the last World Cup, played in December 2021 in Spain (29-22), what this match looked like. After leveling with the Scandinavians in the first half, the French collapsed after the break, falling back into their ways, unable to score a single goal in the final seven minutes. “From the 40e minute, it was a downfall”noted, disappointed, the leader Grace Zaadi at the microphone of BeIN after the match.

As in Catalonia, Les Bleues were dominated by the powerful rear base of the Nordiques. The Tricolores could not find a solution against the sharp offensives of playmaker Stine Oftedal, right-back Nora Mork and left-back Henny Reistad. Like eleven months ago, goalkeeper Silje Solberg had a great game. With 14 saves, she made a brilliant copy (41% of shots stopped) and won the duel of goalkeepers against Cléopâtre Darleux, who kept her team in the game for a long time, before being overwhelmed by the white surges.

Read also: Handball Euro: France finds Norway for a place in the final

A stereotypical attacking game

For the 500e meeting Olivier Krumbholz at the head of Les Bleues, his players would have liked to offer him a completely different scenario. “The Norwegians were stronger than us today and they fully deserve their victory. We had a decent game in defence, but we had too much waste in attack. We forced solutions, we fell apart… ”summarized the coach of the Blue.

In this semi-final, the attacking game of the French seemed stereotyped, sorely lacking in imagination in the second half. Their impotence in attack questions, while they had been regular in shooting since the start of the tournament, with a success rate of 65%, the best of the sixteen teams in the running. Since the start of the Euro, France seemed to have just struck the right balance on the offensive level, with reliable shooters from 9 meters, Océane Sercien-Ugolin and Orlane Kanor, and hard-hitting wingers, Pauline Coatanea, Chloé Valentini and Coralie Lassource.

But it was enough for Océane Sercien-Ugolin to miss her first three shots on Friday for confidence to soar, even if Orlane Kanor and Chloé Valentini survived. “Offensively, we can do a lot better. I wonder if we don’t have a psychological problem when we are behind? »wondered Grace Zaadi after the match.

The French Océane Sercien Ugolin tries to make her way through the heart of the Norwegian defense, in the semi-finals of the EURO, on November 18, 2022, in Ljubjana.

Goal achieved

Beyond this disappointment, the objective announced by the staff before the competition, namely to reach the semi-finals, was achieved, and in a good way since the French team, accustomed to slow starts, had never chained six consecutive victories in a major tournament under the Krumbholz era.

Before crossing the path of the Norwegians, the Blues were even imperial in defense. The images showing the Danes’ explosion of joy after their snatch victory (31-29) on Wednesday against Norway are telling: neither team wanted to face France. Which says a lot about the respect that the tricolor defense inspires in them.

This defensive solidity is all the more remarkable as, due to injuries and poor form, it was a rejuvenated and somewhat experimental French team that played in this Euro. Olivier Krumbholz gave playing time to young players, who played their first major international competition. Among them, Audrey Dembélé (21) at left back and Déborah Lassource (23) at right back, will soon be able to claim a starting place.

Read also: Euro handball: Estelle Nze Minko at the helm of the blue boat

In goal, in the absence of Laura Glauser, injured, two young goalkeepers, Nantes Floriane André (22) and Messina Camille Sinceet (24), were tested. The first, who convinced the tricolor staff, is on track to be the third goalkeeper at the Games, with Darleux and Glauser. Finally, against Spain, Léna Grandveau (19), the Nantes center half, showed great promise.

“Give it all” for the bronze medal

In terms of satisfaction, Estelle Nze Minko was solid in her role as captain. At 31, the left-back made a good Euro, even if, like her partners, she missed her semi-final. Around them, the executives responded present, Cléopâtre Darleux in the goals, Béatrice Edwige in defense, the leader Grace Zaadi, the pivot Pauletta Foppa and the rear Laura Flippes.

With such a structure, the French team can aim for a medal in Paris in 2024. Before the Games, however, the Blues have an appointment in December 2023 for a World Cup disputed in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, which will serve as a rehearsal general.

For the first time since 2016, Les Bleues will not be in the final of the Euro. They will try to win the bronze medal on Sunday against Montenegro at 5:45 p.m. “We want this medal and we will give everything to get it”promised Estelle Nze Minko at the microphone of BeIN.

Read also: Euro handball: rejuvenated Bleues in the square of the favorites

Norway will meet Denmark at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday in the final, which beat Montenegro (27-23) on Friday afternoon. A match which will be the revenge of the last match of the main round, won on Wednesday by Denmark (31-29). After 18 years of waiting, the Danes will play their first major final since their Olympic title in 2004.

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