Five talking points after Denmark’s hattrick of world titles
Denmark again! The Scandinavians extended their subscription to the world title for another two years on Sunday, beating France 34:29 in the final of the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship in Stockholm. Here are five things to know about the championship hosted by Sweden and Poland.
1. Denmark win final against France in front of 23,050 spectators
It was a dream final – maybe not for the many Swedish fans among the 23,050 visitors in the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, but it included the two teams that shared the last four world titles between them: two-time defending champions Denmark and record six-time champions France.
After leading 12:7 midway through the opening half, Denmark had lost most of that advantage by half-time (16:15) but stepped it up again after the break for a convincing 34:29 win. Rasmus Lauge with 10 and Simon Pytlick with nine goals were instrumental to Denmark’s triumph; Nedim Remili led with six for France.
2. Denmark are just unbeatable – for 28 matches now
Denmark and World Championships – it is an ongoing love affair. Yes, Denmark had won three silver medals and a bronze before, but their dominance at the global stage of men’s handball really only set off when they co-hosted the tournament with Germany in 2019. Since then, Denmark bagged all three trophies while staying unbeaten for a stunning streak of 28 matches now.
3. Spain spoil host Sweden’s party to take bronze
Sweden were eager to use their home World Championship – co-hosted with Poland, who went out after the main round – to return to the podium, two years after winning silver in Egypt but 24 years after their last of four world titles.
But first the EHF EURO 2022 champions had their path to the final blocked by France in the semis, then lost their grip on a potential bronze medal despite a 22:18 half-lead against Spain, who finished third following their 39:36 win. It was the bronze medal match with the most goals in the 28-event history of the competition.
4. Europe’s dominance has been confirmed once again
Unlike in women’s handball, where South Korea (1995) and Brazil (2013) have been crowned world champions in the past, the men’s global game is still an all-European affair. Qatar (2015) are the only non-European medallists thanks to their second-place finish at home, while Egypt (2001) and Tunisia (2005) remain the only other non-European contenders to make it to the semi-finals once.
However, Egypt have been knocking on the semi-final door again for two straight championships: as hosts in 2021, they lost in a dramatic shootout to eventual champions Denmark; this time, they went down to Sweden in the quarter-final. With many players from outside Europe gaining invaluable experience in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, it might only be a matter of time before their national teams compete for World Championship medals, too. Maybe at the 2025 edition in Croatia, Denmark and Norway?
5. Top five nations represented in All-star Team
Poland-Sweden 2023 is history – in every sense of the word. Here are the leading players from the 2023 World Championship, with the top five nations all represented in the All-star Team:
- goalkeeper: Andreas Wolff (GER)
- left wing: Angel Fernandez (ESP)
- left back: Simon Pytlick (DEN)
- centre back: Nedim Remili (FRA)
- line player: Ludovic Fabregas (FRA)
- right back: Alex Dujshebaev (ESP)
- right wing: Niclas Ekberg (SWE)
- best young player: Juri Knorr (GER)
- MVP: Mathias Gidsel (DEN)
- top scorer: Mathias Gidsel (DEN) – 60 goals
Final standings 2023 IHF Men's World Championship:
- gold: Denmark
- silver: France
- bronze: Spain
- 4th: Sweden
- 5th: Germany
- 6th: Norway
- 7th: Egypt
- 8th: Hungary
all photos ©2023 Jozo Cabraja, Anze Malovrh, Sasa Pahic Szabo / kolektiff