Handball: the French men’s team on the way to the Euro semi-finals

And seven! The French handball team qualified for the seventh time in its history for the semi-finals of a European Championship, a competition which it has won three times, the last time ten years ago ( 2006, 2010, 2014). Undefeated since the start of this 2024 edition organized in Germany, the Blues needed an additional victory to reach the last four. This is done after their 32-28 success, Monday January 22 in Cologne, against an Austrian team which gave them a hard time.

Well placed to finish in first place in their group with one match remaining, against Hungary on Wednesday January 24, coach Guillaume Gille’s men will then face one of the top two teams from the other group , Sweden or Denmark in all likelihood, on behalf of the semi-finals, Friday January 26.

The matches of the Blues – who played in white this Monday – are definitely very similar. Superior in the game, irresistible in their ability to create goal situations, they once again sinned through a lack of concentration against Austria, one of the revelations of this Euro. Bad choices in stupidly lost balloons, their difficulty in maintaining a significant gap at the mark did not allow them to spend a late afternoon as peaceful as desired. A catastrophic start (1-4 after three minutes) and an equally catastrophic end to the first half (15-16 at the break) left a bitter taste.

The French rectified the situation in the second period, in particular on the defensive level, like this collective neutralization which saw four of them come together to stop the imposing Austrian pivot with the physique of a rugby front line, Tobias Wagner (1.98 m, 125 kg). The main trends seen since the start of the tournament were then confirmed throughout the meeting.

“Keeping our momentum”

Precious explosiveness than that of Dika Mem (8 goals), the Blues pyrotechnician. Remarkable efficiency than that of Samir Bellahcene in goals (15 saves on 42 shots), who played almost the entire match even though he was only third goalkeeper at the start of the competition. Amazing consistency, finally, from Ludovic Fabregas (7 goals), whose personal tally now stands at 29 goals out of 32 attempts, or 90.63% success, since the start of the Euro.

Hit in the eyebrow at the end of the game, the latter had to leave the field, bleeding, five minutes before the final whistle, before being awarded the title of “best player of the match”. “We were able to ramp up in the second half and raise the sliders defensively while finding simpler solutions in attack, with quicker ball releases,” he explained on BeIN Sports. .

The final match of the main round, against Hungary – who were to face Germany on Monday evening – should not be taken lightly, Ludovic Fabregas warned: “It is important to keep our momentum and not fall back into comfort, as had been the case before Switzerland [26-26] where we had three days of rest. This match against Hungary should keep everyone focused on our goal: to win at least a medal. »