French tournament winners, Blues set to ‘live big moments in Sweden and Poland’

For its second and final preparation game for the World Cup, the French handball team delivered a very solid and better performance than the previous one, disposing of Egypt’s way (33-32) on Saturday in Orleans. A victory that allows him to win the first edition of the Tournoi de France.

Slowly, especially in the first period, on Wednesday against the Netherlands (43-32), the Blues raised their level by two good notches to win the competition against an opponent who is much better prepared, especially physically, and candidate for a place in the last four at the World Cup.

“We’ve raised the bar”

(Very) tough in defence, skilful at the back base and fighting until the end, like their comeback to a goal in the last minute, the Egyptians offered a very good opposition for the first confrontation of the world (January 11-29 in Poland and Sweden), on Wednesday in Katowice, against Poland.

“I am happy with the work delivered, but everything is reset at the start of the competition. The interesting thing was to make progress, to refresh the French team’s hard drive with everyone, to bring people together. Now we have to experience big moments in Sweden and Poland,” coach Guillaume Gille responded. “We took a big step, I think, raised the bar compared to the game against the Netherlands. It’s good for confidence,” said pivot Ludovic Fabregas.

Gérard solid at the post

In Orleans, in an Arena (9,500 seats) dedicated to the occasion, the mood was there: It will be Wednesday in “Spodek” (“saucer” in Polish), but not in favor of the Blues. “We are more ready than 10 days ago, but nothing beats the salt of the competition. And we will have to prepare for a completely different hostility in the stands,” warned Gille.

A sign of the importance attached to this second and final test before kick-off and of the caliber of the opposition, the coach rotated less than on Wednesday in Le Mans, starting the second period with his standard squad with the exception of pivot Ludovic Fabregas. And unlike the first warm-up match, Vincent Gérard did not leave his goal at half-time, when he was replaced by Rémi Desbonnet. The French goalkeeper had a fantastic game with 17 saves.

This is enough to leave for Poland with confidence on Monday. After Benoît Kounkoud’s pack on Friday (on foot), Guillaume Gille drops to reduce his group to 18 players. The reigning Olympic champions, who finished fourth at the last World Cup in Egypt in 2021, are proceeding with caution and ambition. “Are we ready? You’re never really prepared with so little preparation, but that’s the lot of all teams, believes Nikola Karabatic. As the competition progresses, we will play better and better and regain automaticity. »

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