Despite the disappointment of missing out on a place in the final, Spain's men's team return from the Handball World Championships in Egypt with deserved bronze medals round their necks having seen off France in the third-place playoff on Sunday.
They played an almost perfect match in which defence, goalkeeping and attack all clicked. The team coached by Jordi Ribera was far superior to the French who were seemingly taken by surprise by their style of play.
It was the culmination of a good World Cup in which Spain started slowly but picked up speed as the days went by. In the semi-final against eventual winners Denmark, they came up short in defence and in terms of luck. Against France, a team of enormous quality, they would have to be on the top of their game.
Los Hispanos got off to the perfect start. Within five minutes, Spain were 4-0 up. Led by a masterful Álex Dujshebaev, Spain overcame a France that came out strong. Jordi Ribera's team wanted to run and the 5:1 was working. Keeper Rodrigo Corrales lent a hand with some great saves (17 in total). In fact, it took Acquevillo almost six minutes to open the French account.
Spain enjoyed a lead of up to five goals (11-6) but with a change to a 6:0, France began to feel more comfortable and they started to close the gap.
That said, the Spanish defence held their own with Corrales, who stopped ten shots in the first half. They went into the break ahead (16-13), having been far superior to the French team.
At the start of the second half, France got within one goal. But Spain reacted well and regained their four-goal advantage thanks to their defence and speed. The Dujshebaev brothers continued to give a masterclass in attacking play, which Adriá Figueras also took advantage of from six metres out.
Les Experts tried their best, but could only find a way through from Spanish turnovers. Even so, France still made a final push to pull within four goals. Minutes earlier, Spain had had a seven-goal cushion (32-25, 52nd minute), but fatigue was beginning to show.
But the national team had no major problems staying ahead and the game eventually finished 35-29.
It was an ideal end to a championship in which Spain had gone from strength to strength.