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Challenge from Croatia but France stay unbeaten

EHF / Courtney Gahan

In a rematch of the EHF EURO 2020 semi-final, France once again emerged on top, but Croatia produced a great performance to challenge the Olympic title holders.

France moved up to the maximum of six points with their 21:19 victory, while Croatia remained on two following one win so far.


Croatia vs France 19:21 (8:12) 

  • great starts from Ivana Kapitanovic and Laura Glauser in goal, along with very low shooting efficiencies for both sides — 20 per cent for Croatia and 40 per cent for France — meant slow progress on the score board early on
  • Glauser had stopped two out of three shots for France when she left the court after a hit to the face. Cleopatre Darleux did not manage to replicate Glauser’s form and Glauser returned to the court later in the match, but her saves also dried up as France had a challenging day in goal overall
  • in contrast to the semi-final at the EHF EURO 2020, when France led 15:5 at half-time, Croatia kept within reach until the end, but were held off
  • Tea Pijevic replaced Kapitanovic between Croatia’s posts for the second period and was a key reason her side closed the gap, with seven saves at 44 per cent
  • France had not lost to Croatia in over a decade and kept that record on Thursday night. It is their sixth win in nine mutual encounters

France facing trouble in defence 

It is an area where France have traditionally excelled and been reputed for — defence.

While both goalkeepers, Laura Glauser and Cleopatre Darleux, are capable of producing form that sees them decide matches on their own, the two have struggled for consistency since Amandine Leynaud left the number one spot in the national team open.

At the World Championship final in December, which France lost to Norway, the two combined for a total of 11 saves. On Thursday night, the final count was six.

In a team where the cooperation between the goalkeepers and the defence has been the envy of all others, it seems something is missing at that end of the court lately, and the evidence is there in this statistic.

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