The last day of action in Groups A and B sees two matches out of the six that are head to head to battles that will determine progression. The rest are dead rubbers – although group rankings obviously impact on who teams will face in the knock out stages. Just to repeat myself: to see any of these games go to either livehandball.tv or Bet365.com. There is no UK TV coverage.
The non-essential games are (all times UK): 5.15pm unbeaten France against variable Germany; 7.45pm eliminated Montenegro against qualified Brazil (both Group A) – and 2.45pm 2-1-1 Russia against 0-5 Chile; 7.15pm cruise control Denmark against already through Macedonia (both Group B).
The match that matters in Group A is Argentina versus Tunisia and it’s on at 3pm. Argentina opened with a good win against Montenegro but since then have lost to Brazil, Germany and France by reasonable margins. Tunisia are in the bizarre position of having beaten Germany and run France close but still facing elimination after they came unstuck against Brazil. A draw will be good enough to put Tunisia through but if Argentina win then as head to head is (apparently) the first determiner they will progress as both teams will have four points. I’m still backing Tunisia but they will need to solidify at the back and bully Argentina as they almost bullied France. Argentina sleepwalked through the match against France but will be stronger today. It should be a good one.
In Group B it really should be a comfortable win for Iceland over Qatar (starts 5pm). The only reason for thinking otherwise is that Qatar have been okay when it comes to attack so should score enough to keep the match interesting and that Iceland have been wobbly in crunch moments both in this tournament and in the Olympics (remember back to their penalty miss that would have won the match against Hungary). If we get to the last stages and its close we could see nervousness and that might produce the upset. A draw will see Iceland through – if Qatar win then both teams will have four points so they should progress on the head to head.
Sunday’s big match in club handball comes from the Asobal is live over at Laola 1 (link). It pits the two unbeaten beasts of the Iberian peninsula against each other and is a must-win for Barcelona and a really-must-win for Atlético. It should be quite good.
Barcelona are favourites. They have played twelve and won twelve with an average score of 34:21. Last time out they disposed of fourth-placed Reale Ademar Leon 33:19. In contrast, Atlético Madrid suffered the ignomy of a draw in their last match – 24:24 with Aragón – and they are a wounded team. They played well in Kiel in the Champions League last week but had half a dozen players on the injury list so could take glory in defeat. They will need to play as well again (and have some players back) to take the points against Barcelona.
Throw off is at midday for UK viewers – a perfect accompaniment to Sunday lunch.
Away from the women who would give Sepp Blatter a coronary there is male-based handball to be seen on Laola 1.
At 6pm UK today, it’s my favourite-to-mispronounce Fuechse Berlin at home to HSV Hamburg. That’s fourth versus sixth in league terms with both teams capable of winning this one. The bookies give Berlin the slight edge in the betting.
The match link is here.
This little ditty for the Serbia 2012 men’s tournament … the women’s tournament is later this year.