The team of France
2018 june 26.
Coach: Eric Baradat
Key players: Janelle Blonbou (right back)
Qualification pathway: Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2017 – winners
History in tournament: 1977:13th, 1979: 6th, 1981: 7th, 1983: 8th, 1985: 10th, 1987: 9th, 1989: DNQ, 1991: 12th, 1993: DNQ, 1995: 5th, 1997: 9th, 1999-2003: DNQ, 2005: 17th, 2008: 7th, 2010: 13th, 2012: 2nd, 2014: 5th, 2016: 13th
As the reigning European champions in this age category, France travel to the 2018 IHF Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship as one of the favourites to take the title – but they will face a tough test from the outset. Having been drawn into competitive Group D, which is comprised solely of teams that made it to the knock-out round the 2016 IHF Women’s Youth (U18) World Championship, France must be ready to perform from the beginning.
At Slovakia 2016, the fact that France would go on to win the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2017 could hardly have been foreshadowed, as the squad were eliminated in the quarter-finals. The team made it to the knock-out stage as the third-ranked side in their group, after beating Romania, Kazakhstan and Paraguay. They suffered losses to Republic of Korea and Norway – and fairly decisive ones, with a result of 22:31 versus Norway and 31:37 against Korea.
France gained a considerable confidence boost with a 46:25 victory over Egypt in the eighth-final, before being defeated 19:24 by Russia in the next stage. In the 5-8 placement matches, they beat Sweden 28:26 then lost 31:34 to Hungary, ultimately ranking sixth.
One year later, at the EURO in Slovenia, France had their revenge against Russia, winning the trophy match 31:26. Their European championship campaign included victories over Germany, Spain (two of their Hungary 2018 opponents), Serbia and Montenegro, as well as a semi-final win against Hungary. The one blemish was a defeat to Denmark – 25:27 in the main round.
Regardless, it is clear that France now know how to play a winning campaign, and they will attempt to use that experience to make it all the way to the Hungary 2018 podium. The team can count on the leadership of one of the players named in the EHF EURO 2017 All-star Team: right back Janella Blonbou, who also finished as the second top scorer at the EURO, with 47 goals.
Group at Hungary 2018
Group D: France, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Egypt, Sweden
Games at Hungary 2018
All times local
Monday 2 July: FRA-CRO (16:00)
Tuesday 3 July: EGY-FRA (18:00)
Thursday 5 July: FRA-SWE (10:00)
Friday 6 July: ESP-FRA (18:00)
Sunday 8 July: FRA-GER (14:00)