Our internationals gearing up for action

While the preparations of several of our international players for Euro 2022, which will begin on January 13, has been disrupted by the health situation, some have been able to participate in friendly matches with their respective national teams.

Les Bleus saw all of their originally scheduled matches cancelled but, with a team much changed since the holidays, they were finally able to participate in a preparation match just before the start of the European Championships. On Sunday, they were in Wetzlar to challenge Germany, with Parisians Vincent Gérard, Nikola Karabatic and Benoît Kounkoud on hand to represent France. Unfortunately for them, and in spite of the three goals from Ben (from as many attempts), they lost to the Mannschaft by one goal following Luca Witzke's last-gasp strike (35-34). The French now fly to Szeged, Hungary on Monday to prepare for their Euro opener against Croatia on Thursday.

Luc Steins' Netherlands have participating in the Four Nations Cup in Poland, with our centre-half turning in some great individual performances. Indeed, he managed to find the net in each of his appearances, with two goals against Japan (in a 30-33 defeat), one against Tunisia (victory, 33-28) and another against Kamil Syprzak's Poland (defeat, 33-27). On Thursday night, Luc and his partners will make their entry into the Euros with the heavy task of facing host country Hungary in Budapest.

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As for Poland and Kamil Syprzak, they were able to participate in several preparatory matches and also took part in the Four Nations Cup. The Poles first lost to Tunisia (26-30), before winning against Japan (28-27) and against the Netherlands (33-27), with four goals from Kamil, who was named Man of the Match. They then played two games for the 2022 Spain International Tournament against Ferran Solé Sala's Spain (defeat, 26-25) and against Iran (victory 35-29). Poland will start their Euro on Friday night in Bratislava, Slovakia against Austria.

La Roja, the reigning European Champions, who will put their trophy back on the line in the coming weeks, had a perfect preparation phase. The Spaniards won both their matches in the International Tournament of Spain, first defeating Iran (36-22) in a victory that owed thanks to four goals from Ferran. Our right-winger was also well inspired against Parisian teammate Kamil, with a goal - combined with an exceptional save at the buzzer by former Parisian Rodrigo Corrales - that saw Spain win by one point. The Iberians thus won their friendly tournament before starting their Euro campaign against the Czech Republic in Bratislava on Thursday afternoon.

Although they were supposed to face Norway twice, Denmark ended up facing Scandinavian neighbours only once, following several positive covid tests. On Saturday, the reigning world champions fine-tuned their game ahead of their Euro opener against Montenegro in Debrerech (Hungary) on Thursday evening. A team featuring Mikkel Hansen and Henrik Toft Hansen won in style against one of Europe's heavyweights, clinching derby bragging rights by a ten-goal margin (35-25).

Finally, while Latvia aren't involved in the Euros, Parisian Dainis Kristopans is in very good shape. He won the Riga City Council Cup with his national team and was voted best right-back of the tournament. Last week he also scored seven goals against Lithuania, but it wasn't enough to avoid the narrowest of defeats (36-37).

(Credits: A. Gadoffre/TeamPics/PSG)