the many heads of the blue hydra

“Blues” are in the last four of the Handball World Cup. Yes, once again, once again. Among the twelve editions of the eleventh competition held since the beginning of the century, the French have already won six times. Their only absence has been a decade, in Spain in 2013 when they lost in the quarter against the Croatians (23-30). Therefore, healthy habits and performance should not be minimized. As it is not pre-written, this scenario is ideal for the moment with seven wins in as many matches.

The Blues have indeed started the World Cup in injury-ravaged form. The remaining seven players, from left-back Timothey N’Guessan (broken hand) to winger Hugo Descata (knee operation) and goalkeeper Wesley Pardin (ankle), equal the entire squad. And the test began with two leaders forced to wait on the bench: captain Luka Karabatic, who was struggling with back pain, and right-back Valentin Porte, still embarrassed by his hamstring.

Thibaud Briet revelation

Of course, the Blues weren’t the only ones to experience such congestion at the hospital, with the infernal rhythms inflicted on the players remaining the main problem everyone saw. But while ambition had not entirely left the French camp, there was still much to go on with a campaign with high hearts. In fact, they’ve adapted, to the Blues and even other nasty surprises that have derailed their careers, from an abdominal muscle contracture that sidelined star player Dika Mem for five games to a left leg contusion. Nikola Karabatic still puts the 38-year-old veteran to shame.

This French handball team is set up in such a way that if one head is missing, another one just happens to step out of the shadows. So Thibaud Briet, 23 years old and a winning mind. Young Normand used the cascade of packages caused by Covid-19 during Euro 2022 to find the France group. He was clearly well positioned. At the first stage of the World Cup, the good giant – 2.05 m, the tallest player in the history of the blues – revealed himself in attack (the third best blue scorer), as well as in defense. the versatility is priceless. “Being a Swiss Army Knife is perfect for me”, the boy laughs. It came out of its box like a beautiful devil. “This is one of the fastest arrivals in recent years”welcomes Guillaume Gille, coach of the Blues.

As in other collective sports, handball has more and more impetuous young people who are not afraid to throw the masters into the deep end. “With the international success of the Blues, the demand for work in training centers and hope centers gradually became apparent.Daniel Costantini, who coached the national team in 1985-2001, explains. There’s also confidence and great players come from the 20s. Before, you had to wait longer to get them to the world level. »

A stratospheric performance by Rémy Desbonnet

Thibaud Briet is only the latest in a long line. However, he also injured his hand and was not part of the squad for the quarter-final against Germany on 25 January. The Blues fought for about forty minutes before winning (35-28). And the goalkeeper of the blues shone with a thousand lights. Ordinary owner Vincent Gérard? What not. After eighteen minutes of formation (without stoppage), the second was replaced by the second goalkeeper Remy Desbonnet. At 30 years old, less than a year in blue and completely unknown to the general public, the Montpellier player treated himself to a dream evening, demoralizing the German gunners with a stratospheric performance (14 saves in 30 shots). A new head for the Blue Hydra.

Another still needs to develop: Elohim Prandi, who is struggling to prove himself in this World Cup. At 24, the PSG left-back, in blue after being stabbed on the streets of Paris ahead of last year’s Euros, has not had the form he had with his club. He still needs to truly free himself, and if possible, quickly. Because the Swedes, who appeared on Friday, January 27, are at home. The same ones that banned the Blues from the 2021 World Cup final (26-32 loss) and Euro 2022 (33-34). Forward to a new success?


Bruno Martini shock

When the news was announced, the Blues kept their eyes on the quarter-finals that very evening, but it was impossible to say that it surprised them: former goalkeeper, two-time world champion Bruno Martini, president of the National Handball League (NHL), a one-year suspended sentence and a fine of 2,500 euros got it “Bribery of minors” and “Filming child pornography”.

It has been under investigation since 2020 following a complaint by a 13-year-old boy, who was taken into police custody two days ago. The sanction was upheld by a Paris court after he pleaded guilty in advance. Even before the result, NHL leaders, in connection with the French Handball Federation, called for the resignation of 52-year-old Bruno Martini. The general meeting to replace him is scheduled for March 7. The Federation also decided to open a disciplinary case against him.

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