Handball World Cup: France delivers a benchmark match to beat Portugal and heads to the quarter-finals
This French team has been sufficiently criticized during this World Cup and before in preparation not to praise its merits when necessary. This Sunday evening, in Cairo (Egypt), this moment arrived at the best of times against Portugal which had everything a pet peeve for the French. Defeated by the rising nation of world handball in their last two confrontations, the Blues washed away the affront by removing Portugal from the competition (32-23). Better, the players of Guillaume Gille have delivered their benchmark match for a long time. The timing is ideal since looming the quarter-finals that only a defeat by seven goals on Sunday night would have deprived.
A dream start to the match
France had trouble starting its games? However, it is the flower of the gun that they entered the battle, thanks in particular to the revenant Timothey N’Guessan (5 goals). Absent from the group since the opening match against Norway (28-24) for a groin injury, the Barcelona put the Blues on the right track by planting the first two goals of his team, then five of the first nine.
Above all, the teammates of Kentin Mahe (1 goal) – more discreet than usual – showed unfailing lucidity. While attacking play was at times messy against Iceland on Friday, they completely weaned the Lusitanians from fast play with very few losses. The alternation between rapid climbs and a calm, patient game is to be shown in all handball schools.
Rare air holes
Even in its weak times, which are quite rare, however, the France team has not lowered its head, has not sunk. In the first period, in the 20th minute, the match could have turned against them after a loss of ball from Kentin Mahé while the Habs took advantage of a numerical superiority. In the process, Portugal glued back as closely as possible (12-11, 23rd) without causing the Blues to tremble. They even widened a new gap just before the break with a goal of Romain Lagarde (3 goals) followed by a last defense of madness (16-12, 30th).
Upon returning from the locker room, the team members Dika Mem (5 goals) have never been worried by their opponents. They waited a good ten minutes before working hard to get away from Portugal for good (22-16, 42nd) and transform this end of the match into a dress rehearsal for the upcoming matches at stake. Not to tarnish anything, the end of the match allowed Guillaume Gille to rest his managerial players before the quarter-finals scheduled for Wednesday, against Spain or Hungary. The France team now knows the recipe for a full match.