The French men’s handball team preserved its invincibility at the Euro, Saturday January 20 in Cologne (Germany), after easily beating Iceland (39-32), on the second day of the main round of the competition. First in their group with six points in the standings, the Blues find themselves in a very comfortable position to reach the semi-finals, scheduled for a week from now. They could also find themselves qualified this Saturday evening depending on the results of the two other matches of the day, Hungary-Croatia and Germany-Austria.

If they never had to fear their opponents in the afternoon, the men of coach Guillaume Gille could have done much better, especially in the first half, where they were held in check on numerous offensive actions , victims of the same syndrome – a recurring relaxation – as during their last outing against Croatia (34-32 victory), Thursday.

Their ability to create opportunities in attack, however, allowed them to make the difference in a match with plenty of goals (71 in sixty minutes), marked among other things by the consistency of Ludovic Fabregas (6 goals out of 8 attempts) and the excellent entry in play from Melvyn Richardson (6 goals).

A sign that the meeting was focused on the offensive, pure defender Karl Konan surprised himself by scoring a goal (in the empty cage, of course) – the 6th of his career in the blue jersey (28 selections). Aligned as a starter, goalkeeper Samir Bellhacene – who arrived at the Euro thanks to Vincent Gérard’s injury – surpassed his understudy status by putting in a full match, with a success rate close to 30% (12 saves on 41 shots).

Erasing a nightmare memory

This meeting also aimed, on the French side, to erase the nightmarish memory of Euro 2022, in Hungary, where the French had been literally corrected by this same Icelandic team, 21-29, during the main round. A totally unpredictable discomfiture, in which several players had not participated, either because they were injured (Luka Karabatic, Nedim Remili, Timothey N’Guessan), or because they had tested positive for Covid (Kentin Mahé, Karl Konan), as did eight of their opponents.

The players of Guillaume Gille – who was also confined that day – had sworn that the island giants of the North Atlantic would one day pay for this snub. It’s done, with a gap almost similar to the scoreboard (7). Added to two previous defeats, this vengeful rout de facto eliminates Iceland from the Euro.

“It was a complete match, one of the most successful since the start of the competition,” the captain, Luka Karabatic, could only congratulate himself on BeIN Sports. We performed well in all areas of the game and were rewarded. Little by little, our game is coming together. » Next meeting Monday January 22 against Austria.