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24.11.2016, 08:18
France aim for second medal in three months
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TEAM CHECK FRANCE: Three months after conquering silver at the Olympics in Rio, France aim for another medal at the EHF EURO
 

France aim for second medal in three months

France have not won a medal at the EHF EURO for 10 years, but their silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games over the summer has given the team confidence. Coach Olivier Krumbholz, who returned to his position at the driving wheel at the beginning of the year, does not want to pressure the squad with goals.

“This competition is the first step heading to the 2018 Euro that we'll play at home,” he said in October.

After being in a rush to prepare the team from January to August, Krumbholz has more time on his hands and has chosen to bring almost the same roster that flew to Brazil to Sweden, with only a few small changes. Krumbholz will be able to count on all his key players, from Alexandra Lacrabere to Alison Pineau.

The roster

The most significant changes to the line-up from previous competitions are on right wing: With Blandine Dancette injured and Chloe Bulleux not drafted, young Amanda Kolczynski is very likely to make her international debut.

Coralie Lassource and Marie-Paule Gnabouyou are returning but have no guarantee they will fly to Sweden yet. Krumbholz has selected 19 players to prepare for the EURO at the Golden League in Denmark, and will send one home at the end of the friendly competition.

The attack

Alexandra Lacrabere and her left arm have become a significant asset to France’s attack, and she is sometimes the only reliable one in France’s game. The main problem remains the ability for the right handers to match her statistics.

No left back in the France team has as much power or efficiency as Lacrabere, and as a result the play often favours the right-hand side.

The other question is the ability for those on the bench to provide efficient substitutes. Too often replacement players do not match the level of the starting seven, forcing Krumbholz to use only eight or nine players.

If France are able to open up their bench more than in the past, the team could be a real outsider for the final victory.

The defence

Defence is the focal point for Krumbholz. He has built success on it in the past, and the medal in Rio owed a lot to France’s big defensive performances. Beatrice Edwige is the most important player in the system with her position in the middle, coordinating everything.

Amandine Leynaud is back in shape right in time to catch the flight to Sweden, and the Vardar star has found an excellent goalkeeping partner in Laura Glauser. The Metz player proved in Rio that she can step up and do the job when needed, and has been proving she is a player to watch out for in the EHF Champions League.

The coach

After a three-year break, Krumbholz returned to the head coach position in January. During his first term as France coach, from 1998 to 2013, he won the world title in 2003 and two bronze medals at the EURO (2002 and 2006).

It seemed only natural to call Krumbholz back in January when predecessor Alain Portes was evicted, and he instantly gained results in the form of the nation’s first ever Olympic medal in the women’s handball competition.

Outlook

After one medal in 2016 the French side only want another one, and anything less than a semi-final qualification would be a disappointment.

But this will not be an easy task, with the Netherlands already standing in the way in the group phase. France have beaten Germany twice in 2016, during the EHF EURO Qualification Phase in March, but Krumbholz knows the team could have a bad day when they meet in December.

A key game may well be the first one against Poland – a team France should beat on paper, but last time the two met, Poland eliminated France from the 2013 World Championship.

If France want to reach the semi-final, Olivier Krumbholz will have to find the right balance between having his best players on court and resting them enough to be their best in the main round – otherwise the rest of Group B will be sure to make them pay.

The 19 players nominated by France for preparation for the Women's EHF EURO 2016:

Goalkeepers: Amandine Leynaud (HC Vardar), Julie Foggea (Fleury Loiret Handball), Laura Glauser (Metz Handball)

Left wings: Manon Houette (Thüringer HC), Siraba Dembele (Rostov-Don), Coralie Lassource (Issy-Paris Hand)

Left backs: Estelle Nze-Minko (Siofok), Tamara Horacek (Metz Handball)

Centre backs: Allison Pineau (Brest Bretagne Handball), Gnonsiane Niombla (CSM Bucuresti)

Right backs: Alexandra Lacrabere (HC Vardar), Camille Ayglon (CSM Bucuresti), Marie-Paule Gnabouyou (Viborg HK), Laura Flippes (Metz Handball)

Right wings: Marie Prouvensier (Brest Bretagne Handball), Amanda Kolczynski (Besancon)

Line players: Beatrice Edwige (Metz Handball), Laurisa Landre (SC Municipal Craiova), Astride N'Gouan (Brest Bretagne Handball)


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cg / ts
 
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