The Olympic champions, Nicknamed ‘Les Experts’, are undergoing a phase of major transition. The “golden generation”, who had made history in being the first ever men’s team to hold all three major titles (EHF EURO, world and Olympic champions) at the same time, are coming to the end of their international careers, while Didier Dinart and Guillaume Gille have already retired.
Coach Claude Onesta is building a new team, but can still rely on the likes of Thierry Omeyer, Daniel Narcisse and Nikola Karabatic (all former World Handball Player of the Year winners) to lead the line. However, young guns William Accambray and Matthieu Grebille have had breakthrough seasons and there are high hopes for Kentin Mahe, who is tipped to be the next great playmaker in the national team.
At the EHF EURO 2014 the French team is eager to prove that their eleventh place finish two years ago in Serbia was a mere dip in form and get themselves back on the podium.
At the age of 29, Nikola Karabatic has won all major titles that can be won in handball.
The back court player, who joined Spanish champions FC Barcelona at the start of the 2012/13 season, is one of the most versatile players that the game has ever seen.
In attack he is a danger for any goalkeeper and a feint expert creating gaps for his fellow teammates.
Karabatic is a double World (2009, 2011), European Champion (2006, 2010) as well as Olympic Champion (2008, 2012). Since 2006, his name can be found on nearly every All-Star Team roster or MVP list.
Karabatic was born in Niš, Serbia but moved to France as a child. His younger brother Luka also plays handball.
Thierry Omeyer is currently the most successful goalkeeper in the world. There is no goalkeeper that is as motivated or prepared for the goal attempts than the 37-year-old Frenchman who moved back to his home country at the 2013/14 season where he joined Montpellier after having player for German champions THW Kiel for seven years.
In the most important matches, he always seems to be on top form, successfully saving numerous per match and leading the offensive actions of the team. Omeyer is clearly the number one in the most successful handball team in the world.
His impressive title collection includes gold at the EHF EURO events in 2006 and 2010, gold at the World Championships in 2001, 2009 and 2011 and gold again at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
He was furthermore voted 2008 World Handball Player of the Year and won the EHF Champions League three times (in 2003 with Montpellier, and in 2007, 2010, 2012 with THW Kiel).
He is only 33 years old, but Daniel Narcisse might well go down in history as one of the most crowned French handball players.
From La Reunion, his jump and speed abilities are known by all specialists. His World Player of the Year 2012 award seems to be a right reward for a player who has won two Olympic medals, two world championships and two EHF EURO events in the last decade.
This versatile back player has also played in some of the most famous clubs in the world (Gummersbach, Chambéry, Kiel) before he joined French champions PSG Handball for the 2013/14 season.
With THW Kiel he won the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2010 and 2012.
THE COACH - Claude Onesta
Nobody, in such a short amount of time, has managed to win so many titles with a national team as the 56-year-old Claude Onesta.
After the 2001 World Championship, held in France, the former player and coach from HB Toulouse took over coaching responsibilities for the French men’s national team from Daniel Costantini.
Many felt that Costantini’s shoes were impossible to fill, but the absolute opposite was true.
It took five years before Onesta triumphed and was able to record his first major victory at the 2006 European Championship in Switzerland. With this, he began make history with the team.
At the 2007 World Championship, France missed out on winning a medal after being defeated by Denmark, but since the 2008 Olympics, the team has been simply unbeatable at major tournaments. Two Olympic victories, two World Championship titles and Onesta’s second European championship triumph in Vienna in 2010 falls into this period.
For his successes in 2009 and 2010, Onesta was honoured with the title of IHF World Handball Coach of the Year.
Past Performance at the EHF EURO Events