It’s men’s semi final day

5pm, Hungary v Sweden (BBC Olympics 7, Sky Channel 456 & BBC online)

8.30pm, Croatia v France (BBC Olympics 7, Sky Channel 456 & BBC online)

Congratulations if you predicted that these would be the four teams to contest the men’s semi finals at the Olympics.  Double congratulations if you put money on as your winnings have probably got you a small Caribbean island.  But these are the four and they divide into two distinct semi finals, one a heavyweight contest the other a not-so-heavyweight contest.

In the latter is Sweden who are obviously a Handball Giant (TM) but who haven’t won a major title since 2002.  This probably explains why they reacted like they’d won the gold medal when they beat Denmark 24:22 in the quarter final.  They will need to stay focused to get past Hungary who have equalled their previous best in the Olympics by getting to this stage.

Hungary got to the semi final by beating Iceland in a double extra time match.  They showed their strengths in coming from behind at the death twice (once in normal time, again in the first extra time) but also failed to close out big leads during the second half of the match.

My prediction is for a match with wild fluctuations in the lead but that Sweden will emerge victorious where they will play …

Both France and Croatia came from behind in their quarter finals.  Croatia endured a particularly physical encounter against Tunisia and were particularly indebted to the fact that Ivan Cupic was able to keep his head and keep scoring.  They shouldn’t need quite so much protection from the referees today.

France scored their winning goal on 59:59 having overturned a 3-goal deficit at half time.  They’ll need to improve on a shooting percentage of 49% and get some scoring support for William Accambray (who got that last-second goal).

My prediction is for an insanely tight match with occasional violent conduct but that France will edge it by the odd goal in 57.

So having predicted that I look forward to a Hungary v Croatia final.

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