Handball Euro. Konan, Fabregas, Karabatic and Tournat… why the pivots of the French team are so effective ?

Handball Euro. Konan, Fabregas, Karabatic and Tournat... why the pivots of the French team are so effective ?

Fabregas and Konan are among the best at the pivot position, in attack or defense. nordphoto GmbH/Engler – nordphoto GmbH/Engler

In Germany television towers are sprouting like mushrooms, in French handball another type of tower is proliferating: pivots. Between Ludovic Fabregas, Luka Karabatic, Karl Konan and Nicolas Tournat, the interior sector of the Blues should further saturate Iceland on Saturday (3:30 p.m.) at the Euro.

When Ludovic Fabregassuffered his third temporary exclusion and therefore a definitive one against Croatia, the relief on the Balkan side did not last long. Nicolas Tournat, little used until then, bludgeoned the Croatian cages. His record: four goals, including two in the last 87 seconds to seal the success.

When a starting pivot in a club like Kielce, a contender for the Champions League title, has to be content with playing the "supersub", that says something about the French volume in this position . "In my memory as a player, I have rarely seen so much density in that position", concedes the French coach Guillaume Gille.

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With 31 minutes of play since the start of the competition (for 8 goals on 9 shots), he must be content with more than an hour and a half less on the field than Ludovic Fabregas (16/17) and Luka Karabatic (2/4), in a more defensive role.

Tournat: "You must not be selfish"

"They are doing an incredible job, I see it, praises Tournat, 29 years old. I want to play but I'm neither stupid nor blind. I see the work they do, it’s also incredible. I understand. You must not be selfish."

"Nico is an offensive option offering an anchor point. He is incredible, praises Guillaume Gille. He has a very interesting hand for catching balls and when we play around him, there is always space created."

Handball Euro. Konan, Fabregas, Karabatic and Tournat... why the pivots of the French team are so effective ?

A Kielce player, Tournat knows how to put himself at the service of the collective. dpa – Federico Gambarini

In defensive relay, he can count on another heavyweight with Karl Konan, the pivot of Montpellier Handball, valuable in the impact and activity since the start of the tournament. "There is always one of the defenders putting a little more height. My strength is being quite mobile so I try to play on that,” explains the thinnest of the four.

And Monar isn't even there…

 "We end up with a quartet that works very well. A base stabilizing our defense whatever our device, appreciates "Gino" Gille. The technician can count on so many pivot seeds that he even had to do without a player like Theo Monar, 22 years old.

The Nantais player notably distinguished himself against PSG in October with nine goals (100% success). As for Dragan Pechmalbec, after three selections for the French team, he opted for Serbia, barred by fierce competition.

Also read: Euro 2024 handball: France begins its main round with a narrow victory against Croatia, Nikola Karabatic makes history

"Théo is very strong so he will have to play, predicts Nicolas Tournat. That’s how it is, it’s competition. I also experienced it in the past, there was nothing we could do, they were strong. That's how it is and we have to wait."

The girls of the French team are not left out

Except for Karl Konan, who emerged at the age of 19 in Ivory Coast, how can we explain this French breeding ground ? Especially since this abundance is also found in women's handball with Pauletta Foppa, Sarah Bouktit taking over from Béatrice Edwige. Why are the French pivots, if not calves, according to the Gaullian formula ?

"There is no rational explanation", observes national technical director Pascal Bourgais for AFP. "I think that the forms of play put forward during training contribute to the emergence of interesting players in this position. In the French game, we look a lot for the inside game, which brings out talents."

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