First real mountain stage towards the stated objective for the French team at the 2023 Handball World Cup: to hang a seventh world star on the jersey, six years after the last. Voracious, the reigning Olympic champions “want to win against everyone”, launched right-back Dika Mem. The Blues will face Germany in the quarter-finals of the Handball World Cup this Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., a meeting to follow in Europe 1 Sport (every evening from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.).
They therefore made it a point of honor to sign a faultless course, with a sixth victory in six games won on Sunday against Spain (28-26). In a match with only the first place of their main round group at stake, which took on the air of a walk in the park with a qualification for the quarters acquired even before the match against Iran (41-29), thanks to the success inaugural against Montenegro (35-24).
An extra day off
The first round was a little higher and tighter (Poland at home and Slovenia interspersed with Saudi Arabia), but the road begins to rise in Gdansk, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Where, incongruity of the calendar, the Blues have been waiting for the Germans since Monday noon, when the latter played in the evening in Katowice against Norway (26-28), 500 km further south.
They are therefore moving forward with an extra day of rest, a good dose of confidence despite many injuries since the start of the preparation (will Prandi be restored on Wednesday?) and “perhaps a small advantage in terms of ‘experience’ in relation to the Mannschaft.
Knorr, they love it
The profile of Germany has indeed changed since the last two matches between the two teams, for the bronze medal of the 2019 World Cup and in the pools at the 2021 Olympics, both won by France. Exit the left winger Uwe Gensheimer or the backs Steffen Weinhold and Hendrik Pekeler, retired internationals, the elbow room has been left to a new generation led by Juri Knorr.
The 22-year-old Rhein Neckar Löwen centre-half, son of former international Thomas Knorr (who participated in the 1996 Olympics), is according to Kentin Mahé “the playmaker” that Germany was looking for “for years” to bring him a bit of madness.
Third top scorer in the Bundesliga (and first German), best passer in the World Cup on average (6 assists per game), Knorr, who made his professional debut with FC Barcelona in 2018, at 18, before returning in the country, “can do almost everything” according to Mahé. “He plays in defense, raises the ball, distributes very well, takes penalties” develops the center half of the Blues.
Like Knorr, this Germany, which has not been on any podium since its glorious year 2016 (European champion, third at the Rio Games), seems a bit young, more programmed for Euro-2024 and especially the World Cup- 2027, both at home. The Blues seem ripe for them to go back to the roof of the world a year and a half after Olympic gold.