The French women's handball team came away from the European Championships empty handed despite getting off to a brilliant start in the competition. A result that will drive their determination to work even harder for Paris 2024.
An almost perfect start to the Euro
Every competition is instructive in its own way. Even those that end in disappointment... The European Championships that ended in Slovenia(1) will give Olivier Krumbholz a lot to think about as he prepares for the last great adventure in his long and eventful career: Paris 2024.
The French women's handball team got off to a magnificent start in the competition with a dazzling series of six consecutive victories in the pool stage, including a convincing win against Montenegro (27-19), which left the doors to the semi-finals wide open. Too wide perhaps! The French women sailed through this first phase of the competition quite easily but their lack of serious rivals may have left them ill-prepared for the bare-knuckle matches that were to follow. This is one possible explanation for what happened next…
In the semifinals, the French came up against the Norwegians, their all-time rivals who beat them one year ago in the final of the last world championships in Spain and, once again, in the final of the last European championships... This match was also Olivier Krumbholz’ 500th match at the head of the French women’s team, an outstanding achievement for a coach. Unfortunately, this personal record would not be matched by a team victory.
Olivier Krumbholz’ 500th match
After holding up well in the first half, the French handball players collapsed in the second half owing, in particular, to the powerful throws of the brilliant Norwegian player Stine Bredal Oftedal but also owing to their failure to find solutions in attack. In the end, the French lost by a huge 28-20 margin against the Norwegians who were well on their way to their 9th European crown that they won at the end of a bitter struggle against Denmark (27-25).
But a bronze medal was still up for grabs in the match against the Montenegro team that the French had dominated in the pool stages of the championships. But the players didn’t seem to burn with the same intensity as before. “We had leaden feet,” admitted their coach. Even so, the French women demonstrated their mental toughness by snatching additional time with just two seconds to go. But it was not enough, and they ended up losing 27-25 and left Slovenia empty handed.
Considering Krumbholz’ experience and expertise in his job, we imagine that the coach of the French women’s team will help the players to learn all the lessons to be drawn from this European tournament. For example, working harder on their physical form – as the coach has already pointed out – but also developing solutions to break through the Silje Solberg ‘wall’ erected by the brilliant Norwegian goalkeeper. Learning these lessons is all the more important as there were several reasons for the coach to be pleased with the emerging talents of young players such as Léna Grandveau (19 years old) from Nantes.
But above all, after their disappointment, the French women will be eager to start winning again, and will be ready to work hard to achieve precisely that! And to use this disappointment as a springboard for future victories and to help them prepare for the greatest prize of all in Paris in two years’ time...
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(1) These European championships were played in three countries: Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia.