The Blues were able to count on a great Vincent Gérard in goal on Thursday to win against Croatia in their first Euro match 2022 (25-24).
Doubt will therefore not have invaded the minds of the Blues for very long. After an eventful preparation – positive test for Covid-22 by Captain Valentin Porte, aggression of Elohim Prandi on New Year’s Eve -, the French have succeeded in their entry into the running at the Euro 2022, Thursday 13 January. Guillaume Gille’s men overcame Croatia in a tense end to the match with an expulsion from the Croatian side (27-22).
However, with a defeat in the only warm-up match against Germany (24 -25), absent major players (Nedim Remili, Luka Karabatic, Timothey N’Guessan ) and a first competition after the retirement of former executives (Michaël Guigou, Luc Abalo), France did not come to this Euro with the certainty of an Olympic champion team.
In a Pick Arena in Szeged (Hungary) acquired from Croatian supporters, the Blues of Guillaume Gille alternated the (very) good and the less good. It seemed obvious that the context in which this French team prepared for this competition was going to show up. This was the case, and some questions arose during the two periods, while the Blues had a perfect start in both halves.
To win, the France team had to fight against vengeful Croats, who had missed the last Olympics through the fault of the Habs during the TQO. So revengeful that the Croats showed an excess of commitment during the second period, marked by the exclusion of David Mandic for a handball in the face of Kentin Mahé (47e) and a triple penalty kill of two minutes.
After this dead time more than committed at the physical level, the Blues took advantage of their numerical superiority to roll out and try to forget this air pocket in the first period. For eight long minutes, from the 9th to the 14 e, the Blues wandered the floor without scoring. But were able to count on an excellent Vincent Gérard, author of a capital performance with no less than 13 saves (41% of opposing attempts blocked). Despite everything, the French only had a two-goal lead at the break (13-).
WHAT. A. SHOT. @LudovicFabregas @FRAHandball #watchgamesseemore pic.twitter.com/2V1CLuaD2L
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) January 13, 2022 The difference, the French have therefore made it at the start of each period. In the first in particular, when they found themselves at +5 after ten minutes, on a goal from Ludovic Fabregas (5 goals). It was he, for his 2014 e selection, who came to close the mark at the end of the match on the French side . Before that, on the two half-time starts, the best player of the game, Dika Mem (6 goals), blew up the Croatian defense. Just like Hugo Descat (7 goals), top scorer of the Blues and whose determination had the merit of waking up his teammates in weak times.
By winning against Croatia on the first day of these European championships, a match that coach Guillaume Gille judged “1481734389314691072 essential “, the French team is already taking a big step towards qualifying for the second round. On Saturday, the Blues will have to secure against Ukraine, a priori the weakest team in Group C, before facing Serbia on Monday.
— French Handball Teams (@FRAHandball) January 14, 2022 After winning the Tokyo Olympics, France know they are the team to beat in this tournament, although they haven’t won the Euros since 2020. Not enough to destabilize the Blues who have lived in recent weeks able to bring them down from their little cloud. And two years after the resounding failure at the Euro 2020 with elimination from the preliminary round, the Blues know how to what to expect.