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Euro handball: France-Denmark, and these long reunion Sundays

The domination of the French team at the end of the 2000s and the beginning of the 2010s, under the orders of Claude Onesta, came through victories in opposing territory.

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Euro handball: France-Denmark, and these long reunion Sundays

The domination of the French team at the end of the 2000s and the beginning of the 2010s, under the orders of Claude Onesta, came through victories in opposing territory. It started in 2009 during the World Championship in Croatia, just a few months after the Olympic coronation. Holders of the triple crown - Olympic 2008, World 2009 and European 2010 - the French face Denmark in the final of the 2011 World Cup in Malmö, a Swedish city which can be reached from Denmark via a bridge.

Pushed into overtime, the French started outnumbered and the Danes generously gave them the ball. At the end of the two five-minute periods, Thierry Omeyer, Nikola Karabatic, Luc Abalo, Daniel Narcisse and others won 37 to 35 on a final goal from Michaël Guigou and won a fourth star. Three years later, the Boxen Arena in Herning in Danish Jutland and its 14,000 spectators welcomed the revenge in the final of Euro 2014. Facing one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Niklas Landin, the French recited a perfect handball during 30 minutes, and managed the seven goal lead at the break (23-16, 41-32 at the end), to secure a third (and latest) European title after 2006 and 2010.

The first Olympic final between the two dominant nations of the handball planet in the 2010s took place in 2016 in Rio, where the French were able to achieve an unprecedented Olympic hat-trick. Carried by their star Mikkel Hansen, author of eight goals, the Danes surprised the French (28-26) in the Arena do Futuro carioca, and shattered the dream of a treble. This end of the tournament leaves a taste of unfinished business for Experts at the end, with the upcoming departures of Thierry Omeyer and Daniel Narcisse, a few months later after a last world title at home.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the French will keep the Carioca setback in the back of their minds for five years. Behind closed doors in Tokyo, the favorite costume is on the shoulders of the reigning Danish Olympic champions, who won the 2019 and 2021 world titles between Rio and Tokyo. In the final, everything is decided in the last seconds, and a decisive interception from Luka Karabatic enhanced by Ludovic Fabregas (25-23). Nikola Karabatic, Michaël Guigou and Luc Abalo are Olympic champions for the third time, joining Tony Estanguet (canoe, 2000, 2004 and 2012) and Christian d'Oriola (1948, 1952, 1956), in gold at three different Olympics.

In Stockholm, the Danes completely master their subject in the final of the 2023 World Cup, with the indestructible Mikkel Hansen (35 years old) and the rise in power of the young left-hander Mathias Gidsel (23 years old). Although the Blues equalized at the very start of the second half, they never took the lead and were unable to do anything at the end of the match, against Rasmus Lauge Schmidt, top scorer in the final with 10 goals, including 7 in the last 20 minutes. Denmark wins a third consecutive world title, which the French Experts managed to do at the height of their domination (world champions 2009, 2011, 2015, 2017).

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