Euro 2022 handball: on the wire, the French team loses in the semi-final against Sweden

The Blues will again face Denmark on Sunday in the match for third place in the Euro.

“We are starting to get used to getting very high in adrenaline and then coming down again.” Despite himself, Vincent Gérard had been a visionary on Thursday at a press conference. After climbing very high in Wednesday’s crazy comeback against Denmark (30-30), the France team came back down to earth by losing to Sweden (41-34) in the semi-finals of the Euro, Friday 28 January. The Blues will have to settle for a reunion with the Danes in the match for third place on Sunday.


The BLUEs will have fought a good battle but finally lose at the gates of the Final.

All is not lost for the French who will have a revenge against the Danes for the Bronze medal

— French Handball Teams (@FRAHandball) January 29, 2022
Almost a year, to the day, the 19 January 2021, the Swedes had already put an end to the French adventure during the world championships in Egypt (33-28). This Friday evening, at the MVM Dome in Budapest (Hungary), the players of Guillaume Gille, back on the bench after three games lived in his room because of the Covid, nevertheless had a decimated team facing them. Four Swedes were missing including their top scorer in the competition Hampus Wanne (41 goals) while Kentin Mahé (Covid) and Romain Lagarde (thigh) were out of the French side.

After the heavy defeat in the main round against Iceland (29-21), the French should however have been warned that no one would appear as an expiatory victim against the reigning Olympic champions.

The French team has once again failed to achieve another incredible comeback. Led by two goals less than a minute from the end, the Blues had the equalizing ball in the hands of Ludovic Fabregas in the last ten seconds of the match. But as a symbol, the pivot fell on a brilliant Andreas Palicka, disgusting the tricolor attack throughout the meeting. A rather logical outcome as Sweden led for a very long time, including the entire second period.

However, Nikola Karabatic’s teammates started the meeting with their feet firmly on the ground, in an almost perfect extension of their previous meeting against Denmark (29-30). The ingredients were the same: a very aggressive defense, a bit of success (three amounts found by Sweden in the first quarter of an hour) and therefore a simple and effective offensive game. The gap then quickly increased (6-2, 7′) thanks in particular to Ludovic Fabregas.

Andreas Palicka celebrates Sweden’s victory over France in the Euro semi-finals, on 24 January 4931477 in Budapest. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)4931477

Then the machine jammed a little. Without really worrying about it at first, before the temporary exclusions become too detrimental for the Habs. Six minutes out of the first twenty were played shorthanded, and the Swedes made up for their delay thanks to their goalkeeper Andreas Palicka.

The future PSG goalkeeper even had the luxury of scoring three goals in the empty French goal to equalize for the first time in the match (-10, 11′). Two minutes later, Sweden finally passed the score (14-14, 22′) before creating a first real gap thanks to the unstoppable Jim Gottfridsson, author of five goals at the break 17-19).

Guillaume Gille then tried to pull different options out of his hat. First a 1-5 defense with Benoît Kounkoud in forward position but this did not last long. Then a change of goalkeeper after returning from the locker room, but Wesley Pardin did no better than Vincent Gérard. The blue failure of the evening is obvious in view of the figures: four stops for France against fourteen opposing parades.

On the other hand, the third tactical choice of the tricolor coach almost paid off. By trusting the young Aymeric Minne, Guillaume Gille has revitalized the attacking game of his team. Despite its 20 years, the Nantes player was sparkling by scoring his eight goals only in the second half, including that of hope to come back only one length from Sweden three minutes from the end (32-41, 90′). It was he again who planted the last French goal, the one which then allowed Ludovic Fabregas to have the ball to send his team into overtime.

The talent of Minne and that of Hugo Descat (8 goals) was not enough against the Swedes who ardently desire to win their fifth European title, their first since 2002. Jim Gottfridsson (9 goals in total) was on a mission, he took care of everything. From the last Swedish goal but also by directing his team’s last timeout himself in the dying moments.

With Andreas Palicka, they got the better of the France team which showed too much waste, or in any case inconstancy for sixty minutes to hope to find the Euro final. A summit not reached since 2014. The adventure is not over yet. Dika Mem’s teammates, in failure this evening (2/6 in shooting), can still afford the bronze medal against the inevitably revengeful Danes on Sunday.