The French handball team brilliantly got back into working order at the men’s European championship. The Blues won against Germany (33-30), Tuesday January 16, in Berlin, at the end of an intense and committed meeting which corrected their feverish start to the competition.

First in group A, they are in a strong position for the second round of the event which they will begin with two points in the standings, compared to zero for their evening opponents, also qualified. Conquerors in attack, robust in defense, the French delivered a solid match, living up to their status as reigning Olympic champions.

Guaranteed to be qualified before kick-off – after North Macedonia’s victory over Switzerland (29-27) – coach Guillaume Gille’s men nevertheless had a difficult start to the match with a 0-3 conceded in three minutes.

The worst was feared; he has not arrived. As if impervious to the electric atmosphere of the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin (15,000 spectators), the Blues did not give up to establish their game over the minutes and put the German defense at fault, sanctioned seven times by seven-yard throws in the first half. The gaps will gradually appear in the opposite wall, despite a masterful Andreas Wolff in the Mannschaft goals.

Nikola Karabatic voted “man of the match”

To the repeated parades of the KS Kielce goalkeeper (16 saves on 45 shots), the Blues will respond with power – that of the extended shots from Elohim Prandi (4 goals) and Dika Mem (5 goals) – and subtlety – embodied by the touch of the ball by Kentin Mahé (5 goals), recalled after the failed match against Switzerland two days earlier (26-26).

Guillaume Gille had also counted on the experience of his old grump Nikola Karabatic (39) to consolidate the collective base of his team. Surprisingly discreet since the start of the Euro (the eleventh of his career), the man with 351 caps gave himself a burst of pride to add four additional goals to his personal tally (1,282 goals now in the blue jersey ) and be voted “man of the match”. “It’s my last Euro,” recalled the Paris Saint-Germain player on BeIN Sports after the match. Playing against Germany, in Germany, in Berlin in front of 15,000 Germans who whistle at me when I come in, it’s exciting! You want to silence the whole room and show that we are better than them. »

Despite a slight slack which gave the teammates of the gifted Juri Knorr (8 goals) the opportunity to take the lead ten minutes from the end of the match, the French handball players found the resources to finish the match in apotheosis , like an unshakeable Ludovic Fabregas (4 goals) at the pivot position.

The rest of the Euro will take place in Cologne, where the semi-finals and the final will also be played. Croatia (January 18), Iceland (January 20), Austria (January 22) and Hungary (January 24) will cross paths with a suddenly revamped France team.