Herning (Denmark) (AFP)
The French handball players face Norway on Sunday (6 p.m.) in the final of the European Championship in Herning (Denmark), a dream poster between the two best teams of the tournament and the possibility for the Blue to write a glorious new page in their history .
Arriving with the heavy weight of elimination from the first round of the 2019 World Cup in Kumamoto (Japan) on the shoulders, the France team will leave with a much lighter spirit on Monday, with a medal around its neck, thanks to a almost perfect course - six victories and a draw - and a rise in power throughout its Danish epic.
In this ideal final against Norway and its armada of world-class players -Stine Oftedal, Nora Mork, Henny Reistad, Heidi Lokke- all that will be missing is the atmosphere because the match will be played almost behind closed doors because of the pandemic.
Nothing to do with the cauldron of Bercy where the Blue won the Euro in 2018 against Russia.
The players of the two selections know each other very well, since there are eight in total (four on each side) playing at Györ, the best club in the world.
But the friendship that binds them off the field will be "put aside" for sixty minutes, promises the boss of the French defense Béatrice Edwige.
- Brazil of women's hand -
Facing Norway in the final of a major competition in women's handball is a bit like playing Brazil in football or the United States in basketball.
"Yes, it's a very good final, it has a little historical side. It all started with a Norway-France" in 1999, remembers the coach of the France team Olivier Krumbholz, who especially anticipates a difficult match.
The two teams have met twice in the big league since the French women won silver at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. In the semi-final of Euro-2016, the Norwegians took the upper hand (20-16) and were adorned with gold.
The following year, the French had taken their revenge in the final of the 2017 World Cup (23-21).
A ball everywhere in the center, with a beautiful in Herning.
But the context this year seems more favorable to the Norwegians, according to Olivier Krumbholz.
"In my opinion as a technician, Norway is the favorite. They are more advanced than us in exploiting the potential. They do not have more potential than us, but they are a little more mature," said Krumbholz.
- Create a collective disorder -
The danger will come from everywhere, including center-half Stine Oftedal, named best player in the world of the year 2019 by the international federation.
"When it's dangerous everywhere, it's a collective disorder that you have to know how to create", slips the Mosellan.
It is by establishing this disorder that the French defense has perfectly confused the minds of all its opponents for two weeks in Denmark.
And in attack, the solutions are multiple, between left-back Estelle Nze Minko, right-back Alexandra Lacrabère (top French scorer with 29 goals), center-half Grâce Zaadi and Méline Nocandy, or Pauletta Foppa at the pivot.
"It's going to be a very difficult game. They were very regular and it's going to be a very close and very physical game. I have confidence," said left-back Kalidiatou Niakaté, invaluable in her entry into the game from the start. of the tournament, like the entire French bench.
Confined with his group to the hotel for nearly three weeks, Olivier Krumbholz was very facetious with the few media present in Danish Jutland, handling the comedy of rehearsal.
One of the red threads of the twenty days will have been the gray and very low cloud cover of Denmark.
"We will go far in the competition to see the blue sky," he joked.
And his double wish was fulfilled: Saturday morning, the clouds had given way to a sumptuous blue sky.
And above all, his team reached the final, the fourth out of the last six major tournaments.
"Everything falls at the same time: the medal, the blue sky. Afterwards, it is only a small wink, because most will happen in the rooms confined to prepare for the match", smiled the breeder.
© 2020 AFP