Tokyo (AFP)

Before gold, the Oranje.

The French handball players, chasing Tokyo for the only title they lack, attack their final table Wednesday against the Dutch world champions: the team succeeds them but their coach knows them by heart.

Already forgotten the sluggish first round, Olivier Krumbholz believes his players "launched" and sees the "green lights".

After their start against Brazil, they find old friends on Wednesday (8:45 p.m. local time).

Olympic semi-final in Rio, Euro semi-final in 2018 ... The Netherlands, in recent years, evoke happy memories among the Blue.

"I remember even more the last quarter of an hour in the semi-final against Holland and the extraordinary game delivered by Laura Glauser," recalls Olivier Krumbholz, invited to discuss on Monday the great moments of the 2016 Games.

Can this past offer them an ascendancy?

Since then, the Dutch have been crowned world champions in 2019 under the direction of their French coach, Emmanuel Mayonnade, also Metz coach.

And the long-awaited clash between Bleues and Oranje with a French accent turned into a missed event.

Since the arrival of the Girondin technician, one of the two teams has evaded each time.

First the French, precisely during the 2019 Worlds in Kumamoto left in the first round.

Then the Dutch who took the front door of Euro 2020.

Handball at the Tokyo Olympics, site and program John SAEKI AFP / Archives

- "It doesn't matter who drives" -

"It does not matter who coaches, the debate is on the ground", relativizes Olivier Krumbholz, also passed at the head of Metz, which he led to his first national title in 1989.

Four times champion of France at the head of the club in eastern France, Emmanuel Mayonnade has an advantage in his duel as a French coach against Krumbholz.

That of knowing everything about Bleues from Metz (Meline Nocandy, Chloé Valentini) or ex-Metz (Grâce Zaadi, Béatrice Edwige, Laura Flippes).

"That such and such can decode someone because they know each other, I don't really believe it, sweeps Krumbholz. I think that today, with the video, anyway, the teams know each other by heart. . "

Even without their injured star Estavana Polman, the Dutch show great offensive strength thanks to the return of Nycke Groot after two and a half years of hiatus in her international career.

The players of the France team celebrate their victory against Brazil during the Olympic handball tournament in Tokyo, August 2, 2021 Franck FIFE AFP

In the first round, the Oranje lost only to the Norwegians (29-27), the only match in which they scored less than 30 goals.

When the Blue lost twice against the Russians (28-27) and Spain (28-25) but also stumbled over Sweden (28-28).

"It will be a fierce match, we will leave our skin," warned Océane Sercien-Ugolin even before knowing the opponent, boosted by the performance of the French against Brazil.

Before this meeting with the air of the eighth-final, won without batting an eyelid (29-22), the band of Estelle Nze Minko put everything down.

"We freed ourselves from a big weight," said Captain Coralie Lassource about this "meeting together".

"Now the competition is really starting for us."

© 2021 AFP