28 January 2017
Ambassador of the 2017 World Championship and four-time world champion with the French team, Jerome Fernandez gives his thoughts on the France vs Norway final, scheduled on Sunday, 17:30.
Do you think this final is a surprise?
Fernandez: “Since the German team was eliminated, this is the final I’ve been expecting, because I found Norway made a very good start in this World Championship. They caused a lot of problems to the French team in the group phase, I thought they were able to reach the final, even though, at the beginning, Denmark and Germany were more seen as favourites.”
What do you think of this Norwegian team?
Fernandez: “They are a well-balanced team, with impressive long-range firepower; a very good anchoring point inside i.e. Bjarte Myrhol who is a very effective line player and the wingers are just as effective. They’re very compact physically, they really were tough in defence against the Croatians. When attacking, they’re good in every position. One of the keys of this final will be the performance of the goalkeeper, Bergerud. If he plays at the same level as he did against Croatia, it will be much more difficult for the French.”
France won the Group A tie between the two teams, 31:28 in Nantes. Would you say that they have a psychological edge?
Fernandez: “No. Norway already did the job by reaching the final, they will enter the court with absolutely no pressure because their World Championship has already been a success. Of course, they’re not the favourites, but pressure is more on the French side. The Norwegians know the French players well; they played each other several times over the last years, so I think it will be a balanced game.”
How do you rate the French team?
Fernandez: “I think they are very well set up, and very calm. They avoided all the traps that were standing in their way. Everybody was expecting them to make it to the final, and they showed that they are the current best team, but now they have to finish the job in front of more than 15,000 fans in the AccorHotels Arena. I think the fact they lost the final in Rio six months ago will give a little ‘extra soul’ to the team.”
Will the crowd have an important role to play?
Fernandez: “Yes, the atmosphere will matter, just like it has since the beginning of the tournament. In the difficult times, the crowd helped the French players to push themselves and to escape some sticky situations. I think the crowd will have a huge role to play during this final.”
Photo: France Handball 2017