Nothing is decidedly easy for the French men’s handball team at the World Cup in Egypt. Pushed, during its previous matches, by Switzerland, then Algeria, it signed, Friday, January 22, a fifth victory in a row against Iceland, with a score of 28-26. But this success was once again achieved in pain.
Before a last match of the main round against Portugal on Sunday evening, however, he puts the Blues in a strong position for a qualification in the quarter-finals.
A much better start
The French have, this time, not experienced any ignition delay. Guillaume Gille, the coach, immediately relied on his strong men to avoid a bad surprise.
Dika Mem – preferred to Nedim Remili at the right-back position – and Kentin Mahé, authors of four goals each in the first act, guided a French game more consistent than in previous matches, if not enticing.
Behind, goalkeeper Vincent Gérard allowed his team to maintain a short gap, which never exceeded three goals after the first thirty minutes (16-14 at halftime). With seven goals before the break, left winger Bjarki Már Elisson punished the tricolor air holes, symbolized by too many ball losses.
Coming back to the ground, the Icelanders relied on their right-back Viggo Kristjansson, brilliant in the Bundesliga, the German championship, and who aligned no less than seven goals in the second half.
Decisive return of Yann Genty
Almost eliminated since their surprise defeat against Switzerland, the Nordics have shown an aggressiveness that surprised the Blues. They then faltered, scoring two goals behind with 20 minutes remaining.
But they did not sink. Helped by some favorable refereeing decisions, the French did not seem as panicked as during the previous end of the match, against Switzerland and Algeria.
The entry of Yann Genty to the post of goalkeeper – and especially the five saves he made – perhaps encouraged his partners to remain calm. The assists of Kentin Mahé, the precious goals of Ludovic Fabregas (5/5) made it possible to return, then to overtake Iceland definitively. The last five minutes under control ensured a new victory which rewards a performance a little more successful.
Place in Portugal, executioner to the Euro
“We do a clear round with ups and downs, but the main thing is to win, whatever the way”, Yann Genty recalled at the microphone of BeIN Sport. “At no time can we relax, we expected it, we are still under construction. The state of mind and combativeness are there ”, retains, for its part, the pivot of Paris-Saint-Germain, Luka Karabatic.
“Satisfied”, coach Guillaume Gille knows the progress his troop still has to make to go further. “It’s a bit of a shame we give the impression of not having a successful copy when there are many good phases”, he admitted.
The Portugal team, executioner of the French in the first round of Euro 2020, is now waiting for the Blues. Barring a surprise victory for Algeria against Norway, the France team will have to avoid a defeat of more than six goals to qualify for the quarter-finals. Not insurmountable. But caution remains in order.