When France wrote historyArticle
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GAMES TO REMEMBER: Reliving the magic of handball is something we can all do in these times and this series begins with a dream final for hosts France, as they secured their first EHF EURO gold medal with a 24:21 win against Russia in 2018

When France wrote history

There are games to remember and then there are truly instant classics, which will live in the memory of fans and will surely make their spine tingle once again. 

We kickstart a new series of games to remember with France’s first EHF EURO title win, the one they hosted in 2018. The final against Russia was not a walk in the park, but it never looked in doubt for the French side, thanks to their scrappy defence. The game will close this week's re-live EHF EURO 2018 programme on Thursday at 18:00 CEST on Facebook and YouTube.

Pre-match analysis

It was a dream tournament for France, on home court, as their defence worked wonders to propel Oliver Krumbholz’s side to the first EHF EURO final.

France had won three bronze medals in their history, yet the challenge was to keep their nerves in check and negate the threat of MVP of the tournament, Russia’s Anna Vyakhireva.

The irony for the two sides is that the EHF EURO 2018 came full circle, as the first game of the tournament also featured France and Russia and Evgenii Trefilov’s side stunned the hosts with a 26:23 win.

It looked like France had a mountain to climb, but they were unbeaten in the next six games, completing their run to the final with a dominant display against the Netherlands in the semi-final, winning 27:21. 

Breaking point

14,060 fans took the stands in the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, a record for a Women’s EHF EURO final, as France took the lead early and had momentum on their side.

However, But the turning point of the match was Allison Pineau’s red card. Early in the second half, the French centre back got the direct red card and looked shattered, consigned to the stands and burying her head in a towel.

Russia cut the deficit to one goal, yet France looked like another beast. Despite Pineau being a key cog both in defence and in attack, the hosts pushed on and scrapped their way to a 24:21 victory. 

Player of the match - Alexandra Lacrabere (right back, France)

Russian right back Anna Vyakhireva might have been awarded the player of the match award on the night, but it was Lacrabere who tilted the balance in France’s way. The French right back scored six goals, including three in a row in the second half, which gave France some breathing space when Russia were on the hunt.

Unsung hero - Olivier Krumbholz (coach, France)

France may not have the best individual players, but coach Olivier Krumbholz holds all the cards and knows how to galvanise his players to make a great team. In two years, Krumbholz led France to the World Championship and EHF EURO double, with a stout defence and great mentality the aces up his sleeve.

Best quote

"It is a great moment in our history. It was a fantastic game and an incredible audience. They pushed us all along the match. In my memory, this is the most emotional match I have ever been involved in,” Olivier Krumbholz.

The 61-year old coach has led the French national side for 20 years, over more than 400 matches, but he has never played for winning the trophy on home soil. This was surely the best game of his career.

Play of the day

You can pinpoint one of Anna Vyakhireva’s stunning runs or Orlane Kanor’s shots than nearly hit 100 km/h, but this game is about emotion and it was running wild in the stands and on the court when the final whistle was blown. There was joy, there were tears, but it was only one feeling: happiness after a job well done.


For the first time in history, France won the EHF EURO title, just one year after they secured the gold medal in the IHF World Championships.

With that the French side also qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and looked set to have a golden generation. Yet one year later, in the IHF World Championships in Japan, France only finished 13th, after failing to progress from the preliminary round.

On the other side, Russia changed their coach, after Evgenii Trefilov was forced to end his career due to some health issues, with Ambros Martin taking over. One year later, in Ambros’ first major tournament, Russia won the bronze medal at the IHF World Championships, despite losing only one game. Despite heading in different directions last year, both France and Russia are top sides and are expected to fight for medals at EHF EURO 2020.

Fun fact

The final weekend of the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 marked the debut of the iBall at an EHF EURO event, as the technological novelty drew a lot of attention. The ball has a tracking chip inside, which enables the distribution of real-time data, such as the speed of the ball, distance to the goal and shooting positions.

France’s back Orlane Kanor scored the fastest goal of the game, a 99 km/h thunderbolt that was impossible to save, while Anna Sen scored from the furthest distance to goal, 18.9 metres.

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / cor