France celebrate fourth European crown after superb showdown with world champions Denmark

29 Jan. 2024

France celebrate fourth European crown after superb showdown with world champions Denmark

On the back of their second unbeaten performance in history of the Men’s EHF EURO, France secured their fourth title and their first crown since 2014, after clinching a 33:31 win, after extra-time, in a nail-biting final against reigning world champions Denmark.

France became only the fourth team in the history of the EHF EURO to win the title with three draws over the course of the competition, after showing huge grit in two magnificent comebacks, in the semi-final against Sweden and in the final against Denmark.

The reigning Olympic champions led by as many as six goals at the break against Sweden, but were down during the last five minutes of the semi-final, only for left back Elohim Prandi to convert a free throw after the regular time elapsed to push the match into extra-time.

There, France had an outstanding display, scoring seven times in 10 minutes and conceding only three goals to take a 34:30 win and set up a fantastic final against Denmark, the third in the last four years, after winning the last act of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and losing the final of the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship.

Denmark had a comeback themselves in the semi-final against Germany, which they clinched with a 29:26 win, and had everything going for them in the final, with an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Emil Nielsen, who saved 15 shots in the first 50 minutes.

However, the pair of Nedim Remili and Ludovic Fabregas proved to be unstoppable for France. Remili, who was named the MVP of the EHF EURO 2024, scored five goals and dished six assists, while Fabregas added eight goals, to push the game into extra-time, as France and Denmark were inseparable after 60 minutes, 27:27.

In extra-time, Prandi added two more goals, to improve his tally to four goals, while Mikkel Hansen and Mathias Gidsel, who combined for 17 goals between them, did not find their stride and were limited, in spite of Hansen becoming the all-time scoring leader of the EHF EURO, with 296 goals, one more than Nikola Karabatic.

However, France proved to be too strong for Denmark, as they took control of the match and never relinquished it, with right back Dika Mem scoring his only two goals in the 10 minutes of extra-time, to lift France to their fourth continental title and their first since 2014, only one shy of the all-time record set by Sweden in 2022, as the Scandinavian side lifted the trophy five times.

It was the sixth medal for France – four gold and two bronze – while Denmark will still have to wait for the title, after securing it for the last time in 2012, as the reigning world champions missed the chance to become the second team in history, after France, to hold both the European and the world title.

Nikola Karabatic also sealed his 17th medal at a major international competition and his 11th title in his career, with four IHF Men's World Championships, four EHF EURO titles and three Olympic Games medal, the largest tally for a single player in handball's history.

In the bronze medal match, Sweden beat Germany, 34:31, taking their first bronze medal in history and the seventh in 16 editions of the competition. France, Sweden and Germany also secured their berth for the 2025 IHF Men’s World Championship.

Six nations are represented in the Men’s EHF EURO 2024 All-Star Team, with Germany and Denmark both fielding two players in the tournament’s best eight, while France had the best line player, Fabregas, and the MVP, Remili, in the ranks.

Germany’s goalkeeper Andreas Wolff, and centre back, Juri Knorr, earned the plaudits, while Denmark had right back Mathias Gidsel and the best defender, Magnus Saugstrup, in the All-Star team.

Portugal’s left back Martim Costa, Austria’s right wing Robert Weber and Sweden’s left wing Hampus Wanne completed the best team of the competition.

In the top goal scorer standings, Gidsel and Costa shared the top spot, with 54 goals, while Knorr finished third, with 50 goals.

Photo credit: EHF / Anze Malovrh / kolektiff