This Sunday, January 29, is the fifth time that France and Denmark, the two best nations of the past fifteen years, have faced each other in the final of a major tournament. Worlds, Euro, Olympics, these two teams have crossed swords each time to win gold. On the first four confrontations, France leads 3-1. A look back at four finals that have marked this sport.
World Cup 2011: a masterpiece of suspense
It’s strange but the first final between these two countries – already to complete a World Championship – took place in Sweden. Not in Stockholm as in 2023 but in Malmö. Olympic champion three years earlier in Beijing, France is the favorite. In this team are Jérôme Fernandez, Thierry Omeyer, Didier Dinart, Luc Abalo, Michaël Guigou. The only one who is still there twelve years later is Nikola Karabatic. Opposite, there is already a young phenomenon, Mikkel Hansen who has not yet joined PSG.
In a room all committed to the Danish cause – Malmö is only one hour from the border – the game is tight, undecided. France leads at the break (15-12), then by a goal a few seconds from the end, before Spellerberg swings a missile that sends everyone into overtime.
These ten extra minutes will benefit the French, with a last-second goal from Guigou to ensure victory (37-35). On that day, France became the first nation since Romania in 1974 to win a fourth world championship title: “I don’t realize. I’m on cloud nine. At the end of the match, I asked my teammates especially this was very real, if it was true that we were still world champions! marvels Nikola Karabatic.
Euro 2014: France crushes Denmark at home
The two rivals, who have had the opportunity to face each other at other stages in various competitions, meet in the final of the Euro organized by the Danes. France is still Olympic champion even if, from Malmö, the London Games have been there. The Blues won again there. Claude Onesta’s team was clearly at that time the best in the world by far. Nothing resists him. Not even Denmark.
The Blues final is a “pure masterpiece” as our newspaper headlines the day after the big 42-31 victory. The Danes are eaten raw, at home. “It’s very simple, the France team played the best hand game I’ve ever seen in my life, confessed, handsome player, the back of the Danish selection, Bo Spellerberg. There are times, they even tore smiles from us, everything they did was so beautiful! »
Olympics 2016: the Blues fall from their throne
It is not the best memory of French handball. On the morning of the Olympic final in Brazil, the Blues are looking for an amazing feat: to win a third Olympic gold medal in a row after 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. Nobody doubts that it will happen: France at this time has not lost a grand final since 1993. In the afternoon in Rio, Tony Yoka is playing at the same time, his Olympic heavyweight final but the he event passes, at first, to the background.
Only nothing goes as planned: the Blues are robbed of their Olympic title by the Danes who are tired of having the door slammed in their faces. Mikkel Hansen’s friends are unleashed and do not let the Blues breathe, losing 28-26.
The silver medal has a funny taste: “It’s a first failure, it’s hard, but losing one final out of nine or ten, for the oldest, it’s not bad, right? , relativizes Michaël Guigou. For that alone, we can only be proud of what we did in Rio. We did so many great things that we have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just sports. »
Olympics 2021: Olympic revenge
The world tour of the France – Denmark finals takes place this time on the other side of the planet. Five years after Rio, the two find themselves once again in the Olympic final, proof of their impressive regularity at the highest level. Denmark, double reigning world champion (2019, 2021), is the favorite and France, which needed to go through a qualifying tournament to be on the trip, is in lack of certainties. On the day when the volleyball players and basketball players are also in the final of their tournament, Guillaume Gille’s players are perfect and after the Brazilian disappointment, they take their revenge 25-23.
The day of glory has come. Michaël Guigou, Luc Abalo and Nikola Karabatic are Olympic champions for the third time and enter the pantheon of French sport for eternity: “Our defense was monstrous against the Danes who came to pound us, beams Kentin Mahé. But we responded to every post. All the guys did a hell of a job. I’m really proud of them, so proud, too, to be part of this adventure. It’s a childhood dream come true. »
Eighteen months after Tokyo, the French and the Danes are again in the final this January 29 in Stockholm. Before, who knows, maybe finding yourself at the same stage again in exactly eighteen months, at Paris 2024?