the Blues impose themselves "in bosses" against Spain

Against Spain, Ludovic Fabregas made a great match.
Against Spain, Ludovic Fabregas made a great match. ANNEGRET HILSE / REUTERS

"Didier, we do not do it twice in a row! " One day before the match, in the cool of a gymnasium on the outskirts of Cologne, the French National Technical Director (DTN) Philippe Bana synthesized the stakes of the match. The semi-final of the last Euro, lost last year by France against Spain (23-27), was the only defeat in competition of "Rock" Didier Dinart since he took the helm of the boat blue, in the autumn of 2016. And this failure was trotting in the head of his players at the time of facing the "Hispanos", Saturday, January 19. The French team responded in its first match of the main round of the World Cup, winning (33-30) after leading from start to finish.

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"The players really wanted to erase the insult last January, and at least on the commitment, I knew we were not going to sin," savored the coach after the game. And the Blues did not lie the one who blew his 42e Friday candle. Concerned, applied, the teammates of Nikola Karabatic immediately dominated the meeting. "We immediately showed that we were the bosses, sent Kentin Mahe, author of a new meeting full. At first, we were very aggressive, in attack as in defense. We had a lot of problems with them and it was not like the game of a year ago. "

If the meeting did not have much to do with the semi-final of the Euro, the Blues had an appointment with themselves, we felt moments. After a preliminary lapping round, where they alternated between hot and cold, the reigning world champions were eager to show their progress. "The first games served as a lesson, observes Luc Abalo. As soon as we met a very high defense, we attacked badly. "

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The impregnable "twin towers"

Collective work sessions helped to put the French attack, which lost a lot of balloons, in the direction of the march. "Today, our game was clearcontinues Abalo. Everyone knew what he had to do, and that facilitated the agreements between us. We found ourselves better, and the pivots touched a lot of balloons. "

If the Blues deplore for two games the absence of captain Cédric Sorhaindo, they had however evolved, last year, in the semifinals, without their pair of world-class pivots. Ludovic Fabregas, absent, and Luka Karabatic, diminished by a back injury, had missed the blue defense. On Saturday, they answered this. "We saw two twin towers in the center of defense stabilize us for an hour," greeted Didier Dinart. Opposed to a Spain playing a lot around its pivot, the two rounds have defeated the advantage of their opponent. Without forgetting to attack.

Ludovic Fabregas, a young Barcelona pivot, has made an initial ingenuity to demolish the Spanish defense. The one that many observers consider the best pivot of the planet has done a good job to the team of France. "The level of intensity he puts in attack and defense, it's surreal! There is no human being who can do what he can do for 60 minutes "exclaims DTN Philippe Bana. Especially since the coach does not save his young pivot.

The landmark of Melvyn Richardson

And even when Arpad Sterbik came out of the box and failed, Fabregas was not discouraged. As last year, the eternal goalkeeper of Spain (39 years), landed Saturday morning to replace Corrales- injured, then "He drank on Friday night in Hungary", according to the French DTN-, performed a high-flying performance. But eleven stops were not enough to overcome the Blues. And even the eleven goals of Ferran Sole allowed the Spaniards to disrupt the French organization.

In the arena of Cologne acquired to the cause of their opponent - Germany and in their group, and feared the Blues - the men of Didier Dinart led throughout the game. The sometimes unexpected changes in the "Rock" paid off. Entered in the second half, the young Melvyn Richardson did not ask any questions. Positioned in the center half, the southpaw repeatedly lacerated the opposing defense, signing four goals at 100% success. Impervious to pressure like his father Jackson, when he was playing on the field, the kid (21) "Brought his liveliness and his pride" to the team, savor Mahe.

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"We know that this kind of match is always played in the money time, and they were serene, welcomed Didier Dinart, not hesitating to leave the performance of Melvyn Richardson of the lot. We were simply serene hoping that the score is done, and this is what we could do gradually in the meeting. "

At the end of the match, the "Hispanos" came back two goals apart, leaving for a few moments the specter of a negative performance. But Cyril Dumoulin, the second French goalkeeper has chained two stops, putting an end to the game. The Blues have shown serenity while being spectacular. Witness the Guigou kung fu for Remili at the end of the first period. The players of Didier Dinart start perfectly the main round of the competition, keeping the head of their group. Appointment Sunday, facing Iceland (20:30), to confirm. "It would be a shame not to continue our momentum", insists Nikola Karabatic.

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Clément Martel (Cologne, special envoy)