Mondial de hand: a strong second phase for the Blues

No time to breathe. After absorbing a transfer between Berlin and Cologne on Friday, the French team of handball attack this Saturday at 18 hours the second phase of a marathon world championship. Complicated appetizer: it is the Spanish European champion who faces the men of Didier Dinart. Defeat prohibited for Spain, and almost prohibited for the Blues, that is the measure of the frontal impact between these two contenders for the semi-finals (January 25).

Among the twelve teams still in contention for the world title, the Blues have probably had the first round the most full-bodied. In one week, they chained five games against opponents of a consistent level (Brazil, Serbia, reunified Korea, Germany, Russia) and have done well from an accounting point of view with four wins and one match no one (against Germany).

But in terms of the game, it's more laborious. Some doubts remain, both on the organization of the attack and on the sometimes sinusoidal level of the guards. Didier Dinart, the coach, would probably answer that the tricolor defense, its historic strong point, is at the rendezvous. And that the depth of the French strength will allow him to hold the distance, unlike other nations. Especially since the staff has introduced new blood into the group of sixteen players.

The star Nikola Karabatic, on the return after a foot injury, took the place of captain C├ędric Sorhaindo, hit and forfeit for the rest of the competition. Thursday, for his recovery after three months of absence, he played thirty minutes against Russia. Positive assessment of the person concerned: "In defense, it was pretty good. I was also able to ride the ball, make some passes, provoke, do some duels. Even though I missed three shots, I'm pretty happy. " Melvyn Richardson, son of the legendary Jackson, made his debut, scoring four goals. Aged 21, he could be the X factor of the competition. "I will not be shy," said Dinart as to the use of the southpaw of Montpellier.

After Spain, the Blues will have twenty-four hours of rest before rallying against Iceland. Then they will wait until Wednesday to play against Croatia.

Sylvain Mouillard