Until last Friday, the European Championship had gone well for the French team: six matches, six wins. But it finally ended in a fishtail. Defeated in the semi-finals Friday by Norway, the players trained by Olivier Krumbholz let slip the bronze medal, Sunday in Ljubljana (Slovenia), losing against Montenegro (27-25 ap). The disappointment is great in the French camp. For the first time since the 2019 World Cup, the team leaves a major international meeting without a medal.
Montenegro’s first medal since 2012
However, last Sunday, in the main round, the Bleues had only taken one bite of this same Montenegro (27-19). And the latter was not a regular on international podiums either. His last medals dated back to 2012, with gold from the Euros and silver brought back from the London Olympics. But the Montenegrins bravely played their luck, leading for most of the game. The French team was above all tense and, despite a good reaction at the end of regulation time, was unable to clinch victory.
The game got off to an encouraging start, with Les Bleues leading 3-1 after seven minutes. But Montenegro quickly equalized, then took the match on their own (8-6, 10-8). Three goals scored in quick succession by Estelle Nze Minko (twice) and Pauletta Foppa enabled France to regain the lead (12-11). But, following two goals from Pletikosic and Grbic, Montenegro was in the lead at the break (13-12).
D. Lassource reacts, Zaadi equalizes
And, in the second half, Jovanka Radicevic (36), who was already part of the medal-winning team in 2012, and her teammates increased the pace and escaped with the score (16-13, 38th). For a good quarter of an hour, the France team remained without a solution. But Déborah Lassource, Coralie’s little sister, finally revived Les Bleues, scoring two goals in a row to equalize (20-20, 56th). Then France took the lead, thanks to Nze Minko.
Not enough to break the opponent. Montenegro regained the advantage (22-21), before offering the French one last chance, by being guilty of a big mistake. On the last tricolor ball, Grbic deliberately blocked Déborah Lassource, which earned him a red card. Thanks to Zaadi, she did not miss the seven-meter throw following this fault, and thus snatched the extension, two seconds from the end.
“Never managed to get into the game”
During the ten extra minutes, Montenegro however regained control, well helped in particular by their goalkeeper Marta Batinovic. Zaadi sent a throw seven meters over the opposing goal, and the French medal chances vanished. Les Bleues left Slovenia in the worst place, at the foot of the podium.
” We played badlycommented Olivier Krumbholz, the coach of the France team, at the microphone of beIN Sports. We never managed to get into the game, in attack and in defence. We lost balls, duels in defense in the first period. We had our feet in the concrete. Then there was courage, but we never regained skills. There was better at the end, but Montenegro always had a small solution. »