The handball world championship, the last big test before the Paris Olympics for the French women’s team


France's Pauletta Foppa (right) and teammate Grace Zaadi, who shoots the ball, during the preliminary round match between Romania and France at the 2022 European Women's Handball Championship, in Skopje, Macedonia, November 7 2022.

In Tokyo, in the summer of 2021, French handball players won Olympic gold for the first time in their history. An experience that they would like to repeat, in eight months, at home, during the Paris 2024 Games. With a few exceptions, the team that will be lined up during the high m of world sport should resemble the one that is participating from November 29 to December 17 at the world championships, organized in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Obviously, the Scandinavian meeting looks like a test. “The context is also special, because many teams will come to seek qualification for the Games. We must expect additional motivation from them”, explains coach Olivier Krumbholz. France, as the organizing country, and Norway, the reigning European champion, are already qualified for the Olympic deadline.

“Playing a World Handball Championship in Scandinavia represents a lot of pressure, but we are happy to go to countries where the halls are fullcontinues the coach. If we do not respond physically and mentally, it will be difficult. The team is getting better and better: we are performing well in the big space, but we still have work to improve our placed attacks. »

“Everyone’s pet peeve”

In recent years, the French have sinned in this aspect of the game, which is the great specialty of the Scandinavian teams. The Norwegians and Danes like to multiply their quick pes to destabilize the opposing defense and put their tall backs, capable of scoring from afar, into orbit. It is in particular thanks to their long-distance shooters – and their exceptional goalkeepers – that the Norwegians beat the Tricolores in the final of Euro 2020 (22-20) and of the 2021 World Cup (29-22)then eliminated them in the semi-finals of Euro 2022 (28-20). Not having this profile of players, with the exception of Orlane Kanor, France favors the game of movement.

“Norway is not our pet peeveinsists Olivier Krumbholz. It’s everyone’s pet peeve! With Denmark, who have progressed a lot and who will play the final phase at home, they are the favorites for the competition. » If both teams finished in the top three of their respective groups in the preliminary round, they would meet in the main round. An immense challenge for the Tricolores, even if a defeat against the Scandinavians will not necessarily mark the end of their global adventure. “This match will allow us to gauge ourselves without the pressure of a decisive match”considers pivot Pauletta Foppa.

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