The Swedish capital seems somehow cursed for French handball.
Bad wink of history, it is already there, right next to the Tele 2 Arena where the French suffered the law of Denmark, that the pioneers of 1993 had lost in the final of the World Cup (against the Russia).
Sunday evening's defeat will probably have a different taste for the Blues 2023, who were looking for gold and nothing else on Swedish soil a year and a half after winning the Olympic title in Tokyo, against these same Danes (25-23 ).
But, after their titles of 2019 and 2021, the Scandinavians took their revenge to write history with a world hat-trick that had never been achieved.
The Blues had twice missed this mark (2009 and 2011 then 2015 and 2017) in the time of the "Experts", who therefore await their successors on the World Cup list.
Nikola Karabatic comforted by his teammate Ludovic Fabregas after the defeat of France in the final of the Handball World Cup, January 29, 2023 in Stockholm © Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
Because apart from the golden parenthesis of Tokyo, the French team has not won a title since the world championship at home in 2017.
The band of Guillaume Gille, promoted alone at the helm after the departure of Didier Dinart in the wake of the Euro-2020 fiasco (elimination in the first round), had fallen to the foot of the podium at the Mondial-2021 then at the Euro -2022.
She is there this time but not on the top step for the tenth and last world championship of Nikola Karabatic.
At 38, the handball legend started the match, despite a still painful left foot.
But he joined the bench after fifteen minutes, witnessing the superiority of the Danes, thanks to their speed of passing, movement and their triple trigger on the back base, composed of Simon Pytlick (9 goals), Mathias Gidsel (6 ) and Rasmus Lauge (10).
The latter was particularly badly hurt in the second half.
The guards pass by
The Blues were overwhelmed from the start of the match before gradually rectifying the situation.
French goalkeeper Vincent Gérard concedes a goal from Dane Niclas Kirkelokke (g), in the final of the Handball World Cup, on January 29, 2023 in Stockholm © Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
In defense and attack, led by Nedim Remili (5 goals at the break, 6 in total) and effective relays, like Elohim Prandi (3/3, in place of Nikola Karabatic, or Valentin Porte , came opportunely "close", on his wing, to cause a passage in force Danish (28th).
Just behind at the break (15-16), returned to height at the restart (16-16), they gave in around the 45th minute, conceding five goals to score only two and find themselves trailing 30-26 at the start. 53rd minute.
While Danish incumbent goalkeeper Niklas Landin, double best player in the world in title, was expected at the turn, it was his replacement, Kevin Moller, who stood out in the "money time".
The goalkeeper showered the last hopes of French victory by making his only three saves in the last ten minutes, including one on a shot from Yannis Lenne (27-30, 55th) then another in front of Melvyn Richardson on penalty (29-32, 58th).
Opposite, the French goalkeepers (4/25 for Vincent Gérard, 3/16 for Rémi Desbonnet never knew how to find the parade against the Danish gunners.
Guillaume Gille's team, decimated by injuries before the tournament (seven withdrawals) then during, with a featherless left-back position throughout the final phase, will have to wait at least another year to find gold.
Appointment is made for Euro-2024.
© 2023 AFP