Wesley Pardin extraordinary last French bulwark, Kentin Mahé offensive leader, Sander Sagosen too alone… Discover the tops and flops of France’s victory over Norway (28-24) at the 2021 World Cup.
Kentin Mahé launches the blue rocket
If France approached this World Cup full of doubts, Kentin Mahé has done everything (well) to remove them. A first achievement on a magnificent kung fu, a perfect six of six shooting, including three throws of seven meters, and an assist for his pivot: such was the record, impressive, of the French center-half after a big quarter of hour of play. Worn by his master to play in the absence of Nikola Karabatic, forfeit this World Cup due to a serious injury to the right knee, the Blues were then not far from breaking the vice-champions of title world. But Mahé could not keep up this pace indefinitely. Less prominent thereafter, he still scored two very important goals in the last quarter of an hour to ensure French success and bring his total to 9 goals (out of 11 attempts).
Wesley Pardin, the wall
Since the retirement of Thierry Omeyer, France is looking for a successor to the post of goalkeeper. A costume that Vincent Gérard could not totally make his own, alternating brilliant performances and others more ordinary. So much so that this Thursday, Guillaume Gille had decided to launch Pardin as holder, he who was playing his first match in a World Cup. A tremendous success for the Aix doorman, author of a breathtaking performance with 18 saves at 45%. Facing the Norwegians, a leading benchmark. And yet, without Sander Sagosen, Pardin even turned over 50%. Great art, logically awarded the title of man of the match.
A newfound defense
While Pardin’s performance obviously played a huge role in this impression, the goalkeeper could not have achieved it without the support of a defense in tune. Even if a few omissions have still sometimes darkened the picture, the Blues have shown commitment, solidarity and above all desire. Three ingredients that had sorely missed against the Serbs in the two matches – a draw and a defeat – qualifiers for Euro 2022 which had served as preparation for this World Cup.
Sander Sagosen too alone
Even before the start of the match, at the time of the anthems, some very smiling Norwegian faces had surprised. A simple apparent relaxation or a true expression of a certain complacency? Hard to say. In any case, Norway would show a very sad face thereafter. If she reached the break with a score of parity (13-13), she owed it only to a Sander Sagosen at the height of her reputation (10 goals in the end). But at the end of the match, when the former Parisian legitimately began to lose ground, no one was able to take over and the Scandinavian ship sank body and soul. Without the slightest smile.
A disturbing Dika Mem
In Barcelona, Dika Mem is resplendent, as he again demonstrated recently during the Final Four of the Champions League where, almost on his own, he defeated Paris SG in the semi-finals. But in selection, it is not the same Mem. Against the Norwegians, his statistical record is incredibly low: 0 out of 4 shooting, two outings for two minutes, two lost balls and, all the same, two throws of seven meters provoked. But that’s too little for a player of his class and talent who, at 23, now has to take the keys to the French truck to drive it safely.