Two months after the Olympic gold medal, the French handball players are once again on the bridge. Les Bleues attack the Euro 2022 qualifying campaign with two duels, against the Czech Republic on Wednesday (9 p.m. live on the Team Channel and beIN SPORTS) in Besançon, then in Ukraine on Sunday (5 p.m.). This mini-campaign takes place without several frames of the Japanese epic left standing.

After months behind closed doors, including in Japan, the first meeting this Wednesday in Besançon is sold out in front of around 3,000 supporters who have come to cheer on the heroines of the summer: “Having a full room, it allows you to give even more on the field and that will give an incredible enthusiasm to the game, ”explains captain and left winger Coralie Lassource. The Brestoise (29 years old) was promoted captain in Tokyo after Siraba Dembélé’s withdrawal for the Olympics. She is one of the most experienced players on a younger team. “We are working with a lot of desire and players who are happy to meet again,” coach Olivier Krumbholz reports on the federation’s website. It’s an important week in terms of the sporting deadlines so we are in commando mode to be as efficient as possible. The group does not lack talent to negotiate the two meetings of the week well. The little kids are proud and happy for the opportunity to express themselves. They have understood the challenges of the week and we are all going to tighten the game as much as possible to win the matches. “

France 🇫🇷 ⚡ 🇨🇿 Czech Republic The time has come for the resumption ⏰ 📺 Kick-off at 9 p.m. on @beINSPORTS & @lachainelequipe #BleuetFier #PlayWithHeart

In the Doubs, Krumbholz is therefore at the head of a rejuvenated squad. In the group of 20 players selected, ten have no selection and only six Olympic champions are present: Lassource but also left winger Chloé Valentini, left-back Kalidiatou Niakaté, center-half Méline Nocandy, pivot Pauletta Foppa and right-back Océane Sercien-Ugolin.

“The idea was to get the best team possible, taking into account the demand from some players to be gentle. But we have a core which “performed” at the Olympics, ”assures the coach who takes care of his daughters, recalling that“ two of the best Russian players, (Daria) Dmitrieva and (Anna) Vyakhireva, have stopped their activity temporarily or permanently . We have been talking about burnout for a while … There are strong indicators that prove that we must take care of our players and not systematically fix the immediate result, ”continues the boss of the Blue, forced to compose without his guards Cléopatre Darleux and Amandine Leynaud. The first is left to stand. The second ended his international career after winning over Russia (30-25) in the final in Tokyo.

These matches are also an opportunity to identify other contenders for the Olympic event in Paris in less than three years, and even for the World Cup in December. “We will only have had two or three days to prepare them, but we make a point of presenting a somewhat commando team. It’s a challenge this week, but we intend to take it up, ”added the manager.

The double challenge that emerges this week is well within the reach of the Blue. The Czechs are certainly coached by Jan Basny, who has coached several French clubs (Nantes, Besançon …), but they were eliminated in the group stage of Euro-2020 with zero points on the clock. The Ukrainians, whom the French will face in Soumy (northeast), have not qualified for a major tournament since Euro 2014 (last place).