Denmark will have the chance to fight for their first ever IHF Men’s World Championship trophy on Sunday at home in Herning, after a commanding victory over France in the opening semi-final on Friday night. The Olympic title holders repeated their feat from the Rio 2016 final, beating the defending champions France and ending their chance to claim a third gold medal in a row – just as they did two and a half years ago in Brazil.
It is the first World Championship semi-final France have lost since 2007 – coincidentally, an event which also took place in Germany.
Denmark vs France 38:30 (21:15)
It was expected to be a close match in the battle for the first ticket to the final, but Denmark took control early and essentially sealed the win by half-time, when they led by six goals. Star left back Mikkel Hansen was once again in scorching form, tallying a total of 12 goals and receiving the hummel player of the match award.
It was not a day for the goalkeepers, all four of whom have shown themselves to be decisive in their ability to help either their national or club teams win big matches in the past. France started with Vincent Gerard between the posts, but after recording zero saves, he was replaced by Cyril Dumoulin in the closing minutes of the first half. The change did little to help, as Denmark were simply unstoppable.
While France are traditionally known for having the best defence in the world, Denmark have made a name for themselves in that department at the World Championship they are co-hosting with Germany. However, they were not able to rely on the strongest game from captain Niklas Landin, who also left for the bench in favour of second keeper Jannick Green in the last minutes of the opening half.
At the other end of the court, France had no answer for Denmark’s attack. Hansen ran riot against the 6-0 defence and was certainly the stand-out attacker for his side with his incredible number of goals – but he was not alone. Rasmus Lauge once again had a world-class performance, tallying six goals, while others such as left wing Magnus Landin (three goals), right wing Lasse Svan (four) and line player Anders Zachariasson (five) had perfect games at 100% accuracy.
Even with two-minute suspensions Denmark maintained their lead or increased it. During those periods, the Scandinavian side took out their keeper but did not concede any long-range goals. France, on the other hand, did allow some successful shots into their empty goal, including two from Niklas Landin. These details showed the difference in form and preparation between the sides, confirming that Denmark are in exceptional shape – and could very well be poised to take what would be their first men’s world title in history when they take the court in Jyske Bank Boxen on Sunday.
From 21:15 at half-time, Denmark hit a 10-goal advantage, 32:22, off a shot from Morten Olsen just inside the last quarter – and the ticket to the final was clearly decided at that point.