It is a match to win at any price. Unless he counts for butter. To tackle the final meeting of the preparatory phase of the World Championship, which the Blues will play against Russia on Thursday, January 17, coach Didier Dinart ended up in the "schrödingerienne" situation. How do you prepare a meeting that announces both decisive and potential without sporting interest?
"There is a possibility that we qualify for the start of the game, but it is also possible that this match is decisive," sums up Luka Karabatic's pivot. "We will see what happens when we leave the nap", extends Didier Dinart.
If Brazil, currently third in Group A (behind the Blues and Germany) beats one United Korea (match at 3:30 PM), his qualification will eliminate Russia from the race in the main round and will make the game against the Russians without real commitment.
Because the formula of this world of the championship handball is made: the first three of each of the four groups of the preparatory phase qualify for the next round. But only the results achieved against the teams that are qualified for this main round count during the rest of the competition.
At the moment, before these last matches of the preliminary round, France counts 7 points, Germany 6 points, Brazil 4 points, Russia 4 points. Serbia and Korea are at the back of the package with 3 points and 0 points.
"It is a very selective competition that allows a very long brewing phase before it crashes in the semi-finals, and it offers the right to the fault to the nations, which can recover after a defeat", synthesized Philippe Bana, the national technical director of French handball for the competition.
This formula with two chickens, incomprehensible to the general public, has been used in handball for a long time. It was abandoned for three editions in favor of a more readable operation: a group stage, then playoff games of the 8e final.
On the occasion of this World Cup played in Germany and Denmark, the International Handball Federation (IHF) has chosen to return to the old formula. "This complicated formula makes the competition unreadable, analyzes the assistant coach of the Blues, Guillaume Gille. All scenarios are conceivable, the calculator must be turned off every game to know the exact issue and sometimes the bet may be the opposite of the spirit of the sport, namely winning the game. "
This return to the past evokes an outrage. "It is clear that the priority is not the health of the athletes", emphasizes Pierre Sebastien, the doctor of the French team. Because if it controls the broadcasters by limiting the possibility of eliminating "big" countries before the semifinals (at the 2017 World Cup, Denmark and Germany had fallen as quickly as the 8e), the formula requires players to play ten games in two weeks.
"It is a heresy, warn the doctor of the Blues. We have fought for at least a day of rest between the games, which was not good enough. And there, in a match, you have the impression that everything is deleted, one returns to the duplicates and plays five matches in seven days. "
"The players are not lemons"
The practitioner fears a cascade of muscle injuries as the competition progresses. On Tuesday, in the fourth game in five days of the Blues, the French team lost its captain, Cédric Sorhaindo, victim of a tear in the calf.
"The players are not lemons, they can not play ten games in fifteen days"Philippe Bana rebelled against the microphone of BeIN Sports, "Very concerned about returning to prehistoric times in the 2000s." A call since then by the management of the German team and "Who is about the world"says the DTN, worried about that "Complete the players".
"It will not necessarily be the best that will win, but the most lasting," miss Pierre Sebastien. With this in mind, Didier Dinart injected new blood into the French group before the game against Russia.
A day after the integration of Nikola Karabatic to replace Sorhaindo, the French coach made a second change in his team. Leave Nicolas Claire, replaced by Melvyn Richardson, last player tossed away the day of the first game, but stayed in the group.
"It's a real tactical option because Melvyn offers versatility in three positions"says Didier Dinart. On Wednesday, the young Montpellier got a personal end to the training, with Guillaume Gille making sure that his explosiveness in the counterattack worked when his partners emphasized recovery.
France – Russia, Thursday 17 January at 8.30 pm (on BeIN Sports 1).