Physical freshness, youth in the face of experience, historic rivalry… The keys to the France-Germany quarter-final

Physical freshness, youth in the face of experience, historic rivalry… The keys to the France-Germany quarter-final

Physical freshness, youth in the face of experience, historic rivalry… The keys to the France-Germany quarter-final

The Azzurri will face the Germans on Wednesday in Gdansk (Poland), in the quarter-finals of the handball world championship.

Serious things begin in this handball world championship 2023. Authors of a flawless from the start of the competitionFrance’s players face off in the quarterfinals Germany, Wednesday 25 January, in Gdansk (Poland). An opportunity for franceinfo:sport to give the keys to this shock, between the Azzurri and the Germans.

More freshness for the Blues

Sure of first place in Group I after the success against Spain (28-26) on Sunday in Krakow, the French managed to go to Gdansk on Monday, while Germany lost against Norway (28-26) in Katowice. With an extra day off, Guillaume Gille’s players therefore have a freshness advantage over their German colleagues.

“Can it make a difference? We’ll see. If there was a recipe for winning the quarter because we have one more day off than our opponent, I could exploit it. It’s not like that”, vanished the coach of the Blues, aware that it won’t be necessary to economize. Yet, the psychological advantage seems to be rather for the Olympic champions of France, who remain on six victories in as many games, and who are aiming for Friday’s semifinal against the winner of Sweden-Egypt.

Juri Knorr’s youth versus Kentin Mahé’s experience

If he has a less experienced team than that of the Blues, the Icelandic Alfred Gislason, who has been on the German bench since February 2020, can count on his nugget Juri Knorr. At 22, the Rhein-Neckar Löwen midfielder is simply Germany’s best scorer (37 goals, 64% efficiency) and best passer (37 assists) at this World Cup. “Weapon number 1”as the French captain Luka Karabatic described it in the columns of The groupit also won the praise of a certain Kentin Mahé.

Juri Knorr during the match between Germany and Netherlands, during the World championship, on January 21, 2023 in Katowice.  (JAN WOITAS / DPA)

“I’m happy for Germany that it has found in Juri Knorr this playmaker it hasn’t had for years. It’s up to us to show him that our defense is tough and better than any the Germans have encountered up to then. And to stop him in his tracks”, explained the French top scorer (26 goals, 67%), who grew up in Germany and whose wife is German. The other duel to keep an eye on will take place on goal, between Vincent Gérard, imperial since the beginning of the World Cup (56 saves, 34%) and Andreas Wolff, equally reliable (58 saves, 34.1%).

A fierce rivalry between the two nations

Since 1991, France have won 27 times in 53 matches against Germany (51%), for 7 draws (13%) and 19 defeats (36%). A positive record that has extended to the last few competitions, both for the third place of the 2019 World Cup (26-25) and for the semifinals of the 2016 Olympic Games (29-28). Despite these recent victories, the scar of the defeat in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup (32-31 ap) remains alive. In Cologne, Michaël Guigou’s equalizing goal in extra time was unfairly denied by the referee, depriving the Blues of a penalty shoot-out.

“France-Germany are part of the matches somewhat apart, passed off by the generations who have lived through these moments”explained Guillaume Gille, who took part in the adventure in 2007. “It won’t be easy, Germany has many players who certainly have a little less international experience but bring a lot of speed and freshness to their game”. At that time, Guillaume Gille played in Germany (Hamburg), as well as Thierry Omeyer, Nikola Karabatic (Kiel) or Daniel Narcisse (Gummersbach). Since this last German world title, their championship has progressively weakened, in particular to the advantage of the French one. Latest proof of the real antagonism between the two neighboring countries.

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