France seal best start at the EHF EURO with fourth win in a row

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EHF / Adrian Costeiu

For the first time ever at the EHF EURO, France started the tournament with four wins in a row, with the latest coming on Sunday evening in Skopje, 27:19, against Montenegro, which lost the first time in the tournament.

France vs Montenegro 27:19 (12:9)

  • France’s goalkeeper Cleopatre Darleux, who was named the Player of the Match, was a huge reason for France’s win, stopping 11 shots for a 39% saving efficiency, after a phenomenal start, that saw Montenegro scoring only two goals in the first 13 minutes
  • Olivier Krumbholz’s side has beaten another one of their records at the EHF EURO, starting for the first time in 12 tournaments with a four-game winning streak
  • this was France’s 50th win in history at the EHF EURO, sealed in only 79 matches, a 63.2% winning efficiency, the third best in the competition, after Norway (82.7%) and Denmark (64.7%)
  • if France qualify for the semi-finals, it would be the fourth time in a row they are between the top four teams at the EHF EURO, winning a medal in each of the past three tournaments
  • with France close to progressing to the semi-finals, Montenegro, who now have four points in the standings, will face Romania and the Netherlands in the next two matches, facing must-win matches to qualify in the final weekend for the first time since 2014

France’s defence dominates once again

With over 500 fans making the trip from Montenegro, the co-hosts of the EHF EURO 2022 were hoping to break France’s streak and extend theirs, as the two teams were both riding three-game winning streaks. But when Montenegro could only post a 20% attacking efficiency and a 27% shot efficiency in the first half, the game was as good as over.

France are undoubtedly the top defence in the competition, conceding only 19.5 goals per game, and they proved that once again on Sunday evening, when Montenegro could simply not find a key to unlock it, with the game ending in a rout. As the game was shaping up to be Montenegro’s worst-ever loss in the competition, Olivier Krumbholz pulled out his starters and let other players feature more in the second half.

With six points, France are leading the standings comfortably and are a prime pick to qualify for the semi-finals, while Montenegro are still second, with four points, but this loss will surely be a make-or-break point for them. With a game against Romania following, their fighting power will be tested, as it could soon go downhill from this point on.

20221113 EHF EURO Live Blog Quote 2
It was a tough match, physically. It was hard to focus on the game with their fans. We heard them, but it was good pressure. We felt like in a bubble and no one could get in. We got the two points and are satisfied with our performance.
Grace Zaadi
France centre back

Jovanka Radicevic (MNE) – right wing: "France scored many easy goals, as we made many mistakes in attack. Our defence was really good, but if you play not on 100 percent on both sides, you cannot beat a team like France. We have lost our first game and on Tuesday we have another chance to qualify for the semi-final."

Tamara Horacek (FRA) – left wing: "I did not expect this clear result. Before the match, I was a little bit afraid, because of this audience. But today we sticked together. And again defence and Cleopatre Darleux in the goal were the keys to success – as in every of our matches defence is the key."

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