France beat Slovenia to finish first in their pool

With three wins in as many matches, French handball players have plenty of points in the opening round of the World Cup, which will be held in Poland and Sweden from January 11 to 29. In Katowice, at the Spodek, a sports hall in the shape of a flying saucer, the Olympic champions dominated Slovenia with authority (35-31).

This meeting between two victorious teams from Poland and Saudi Arabia was a serious test for the French. Net winners of the Poles on Saturday (32-23), the Slovenians did not approach this match against one of the competition’s favorites as reconciliation victims.

Also read: Handball World Cup 2023: without coercion, the blues crush Saudi Arabia and climb to the main round

The beginning of the meeting was removed, sometimes disheveled, between two teams’ players, carried towards the attack. It was only at the end of the first quarter to see France get away with the score (9-6), especially thanks to the 500e goal in the selection of the center half Kentin Mahé. In the absence of Dika Mem, injured in the stomach, the other tricolor leaders present responded: Nikola Karabatic, Ludovic Fabregas and above all Nedim Remili dominated the debates on a big night.

Quickly the Slovenians came up against the power of the French pivots and at times looked hopeless apart from, at intervals, the powerful right-back Aleks Vlah. By the 23rde minute, France took a five-goal lead thanks to two goals from Nedim Remili, unsustainable.

However, a series of French errors, including two balls to the face of goalkeeper Urban Lesjak, which resulted in a two-minute suspension by Valentin Porte, then by Melvyn Richardson, would bring the Slovenians back into the game. Urban Lesjak made some fine saves and prevented the French from scoring for three minutes. At the break, the difference was only two goals in favor of the blues.

Nedim Remili’s injury

Dominating physically, the Habs returned from the locker room with the firm intention of killing the game. By the 35the minute, Dylan Nahi won his duel against Urban Lesjak, allowing France to extend the gap to five goals (21-16), while the Slovenians seemed overwhelmed by the French speed. At 46e, the explosive winger from the Kielce Blues capitalized on seven goals. There was no longer any doubt about the outcome of the meeting.

In an end to the match without tension, it was only the exit after injury from Nedim Remili, who until then was sparkling, made the final table uniquely darker. In his absence, Nikola Karabatic and Kentin Mahé shared the position of playmaker for the last ten minutes.

Also read: Handball World Cup 2023: revenge, France aims for the title

“It was a real test. We were frustrated at half-time because we had the feeling of being dominant and the Slovenians were clinging to our coat anyway. We had to work to distance them in the second half., declared Guillaume Gille, the coach of the Blues, at the BeIN Sports microphone at the end of the meeting:

“We are off to a good start in this competition, despite Nedim Remili’s injury. I think it’s a little muscle contracture, that’s part of the dangers of this type of fight. We are going to do tests and we will know more tomorrow. »

First in Group B, the Tricolores take the short trip (80 kilometers) from Katowice to Krakow in southern Poland. They face three teams from Group A: Montenegro, on Wednesday, Spain, two days later, then Iran or Chile, on Sunday, January 22. The reunion with Spain, where several French internationals are playing (Ludovic Fabregas, Melvyn Richardson and Dika Mem) promises to be tough. He is a formidable opponent, very consistent at the highest level (winner of Euro 2020, third in 2021 World Cup and finalist of Euro 2022).

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To reach the quarter-finals, Guillaume Gilles’ men must finish in one of the first two places in their group in the main round. The Blues will only travel to Sweden if they qualify for the quarter-finals – Stockholm hosts two quarter-finals, a semi-final, the final (January 29) and the top 5 matches.e at 8e square.

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