An almost perfect start to the Euro
All competitions deliver lessons. Even those that end badly… The European Championships that ended in Slovenia(1) will be a source of long reflection for Olivier Krombholz in the perspective of the last great adventure of his long and rich career, Paris 2024.
The campaign of the French women’s handball team had started magnificently with a flamboyant series of six consecutive group victories, including a huge success over Montenegro (27-19) which opened the doors to the semi-finals. Too big maybe. Les Bleues indeed walked easily on this first phase of competition and their lack of significant opposition perhaps did not sufficiently prepare them for the knife matches that were to follow. It’s a hypothesis.
Because in the semi-finals, the French women found their faithful adversaries, the Norwegians who had beaten them in the final of the last world championships last year in Spain and in the final of the last Euro too… This meeting was also the 500th match of ‘Olivier Krumbholz at the head of Les Bleues, an exceptional performance for a coach. Alas, this personal best will not be accompanied by collective success.
500e by Olivier Krumbholz
After holding up well in the first half, the French handball players collapsed in 2e half-time especially under the battering of the immense Norwegian player Stine Bredal Oftedal but also by their inability to find solutions in attack. In the end, the French women lost by a river score against the Norwegians 28-20 who were on their way to their 9th European title won in a hard fight against Denmark (27-25).
There remained a bronze medal to go against the team of Montenegro that the French had dominated in pool. But the spring was apparently relaxed. “We had our feet in the concrete” for their coach. Les Bleues nevertheless showed psychological resources by snatching an extension two seconds from the end. But that will not be enough and they will lose 27-25 and will therefore leave Slovenia without a medal.
Having gained from the experience and science of coaching Krumbholz, it is assumed that the coach of the French team will be able to work enormously from this European campaign. For example, work more on the physical as pointed out by the coach. But also looking for solutions in attack, in particular to break through the wall Silje Solberg, the brilliant Norwegian goalkeeper. Especially since there was also satisfaction for the coach with the affirmation of young players like the Nantes player Léna Grandveau (19 years old).
Above all, past their disappointment, Les Bleues will be keen to return to success and therefore to work hard for it. And build on this disappointment to build the victories to come and the biggest of them, in two years in Paris…
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(1) This Euro was contested in three countries: North Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia.