A record crowd for a women’s handball match saw Brazil become only the second non-European winners of the World Championship. It was a tough match with both teams enjoying periods in which their defence wrapped up their opponent’s attacks – there were 8 7m penalties as well and nobody would have complained too much had there been more. In the end, Brazil had too much speed and variety and were able to take the title in the face of the partisan home support who cheered on Serbia throughout. It finished 22:20 with Alexandra Nascimento top-scoring with 6 goals.
The immediate benefit to Pan American handball is that they will now have 5 places at the 2015 World Championship which will be in Denmark. The Danes have also qualified as hosts and took the bronze in this edition of the World Championship by beating Poland 30:26.
And so ends a surprising World Championships. Norway were humbled by Serbia when they hit cruise control with a 5 goal advantage in the second half; Montenegro were eliminated in the Round of 16; France never clicked enough to announce themselves as contenders. Poland and Denmark exceeded expectations; Hungary, yet again, showed that it won’t take much for them to be genuine contenders. The title left Europe and there was enough from South Korea and Japan to show that there are other places out there with reasonable strength even if the majority of strong teams are European.
Euro 2014 is the next major women’s tournament – in Hungary and Croatia next December. Up before then is the men’s version in Denmark in January. Handball Views will be back for that.
Neither semi final was particularly close but the winners won’t care. Serbia closed out Poland for a ten-minute spell in the first half during which they pulled out to a five-goal lead that they only ever looked like adding to; Brazil led by 4 at the break and then scored the first two of the second-half which, combined with a superb goalkeeping performance, saw them control the game and move into the final.
So, there you have it. Two teams who have never contested a final before. When they met in the group stages Brazil won but the final will be a different matter. Firstly, they have picked up a few injuries along the way since then but more importantly the crowd will almost certainly be a 20,000 sell out and there won’t be many Brazilians there (although those that are will be colourful!). By most measures you’d say Brazil were the better team but it is a final that could really go either way.
The scores and upcoming fixtures therefore are:
Poland 18:24 Serbia
Brazil: 27:21 Denmark
3/4 Play Off
Sunday 1.30pm (UK) Poland v Denmark
4.15pm Serbia v Brazil
Owing to my ongoing battle with my broadband I only actually saw one of the quarter finals as they happened. It turned out to be the one no one was talking about. Which is a shame but let’s see what else happened in the quarters and look ahead to Friday’s semis.
Brazil 33:31 Hungary (2OT)
This is the one I saw. A brutal, captivating match which both teams at times thought they’d taken control of. 2012 World Player of the Year Alexandra do Nascimento hit the net 10 times for the Brazilians as both teams combined hard defence with steady attack – and the occasional burst of cynicism. It was 26:26 at the end, 29:29 when the first OT period session ended – and then Brazil had the stamina to ride out the second period of overtime. Whatever happens now this is the Brazilian’s best ever result in the World Championships.
Poland 22:21 France
A win in regulation and, from what I saw, a pretty uninvolving game. Poland had a 2-3 goal cushion for most of the match and whenever France got back into it, Poland stepped things up again. As with Brazil this is now Poland’s best ever showing in the World Championships. France were runners-up last time and will presumably be mightily peeved and yet again having a match where there rhythm was so sadly lacking.
Serbia 28:25 Norway
The translated headline in one of the Norwegian papers I looked at says that the players are “fucking annoyed” with the criticism they are getting. But the Norwegians have now gone from holding all three major titles to just having their Olympic crown to defend and this time they blew a five-goal second-half lead to lose by three. The noise of the crowd is insane on the YouTube reruns but that doesn’t really explain how much Norway lost it. Serbia really must fancy their chances now. Serbia have made the semi finals once before – so this is almost their best performance in the World Championships.
Denmark 31:28 Germany
For the Germans Susann Müller hit 12 but they still lost. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. Giving up 7 7m penalties and watching 6 of them be converted will hurt you. Denmark progress and are probably the most traditionally strong team left in what is now a wide-open tournament.
The Semi Finals – all live on Bet365 live streaming
5pm (UK) – Serbia v Poland
Did anyone predict this? No, of course you didn’t. It’d now be a surprise for anything other than a Serb victory. The Belgrade Arena is going to be filled with 16,500 noisy Serbs and more large flags than there is space for. Poland need to stifle them like they did France but I just can’t see it happening. But then I was 0/4 on my quarter final predictions.
7.45pm – Brazil v Denmark
The Brazilians will be a force come Rio 2016 if things carry on this way. Able to muscle-up against the physical play of Hungary they also have some sharp shooters and some nice moves. Denmark are Denmark though, and have a handball pedigree like few others (especially now Norway are gone) but haven’t won a title (World/Olympic/European) since 2004. I suspect the bookies will make Brazil favourites but I honestly don’t know which way this one will go.
Apologies for lack of updates on this tournament. A lack of broadband in the past few days has been the issue. Hopefully it’s now resolved.
So the European champions have fallen by the wayside and the world champions are sauntering through, the hosts are getting by with home support and there are plenty of dark horses in the mix. The World Championship in Serbia enters the quarter final stage on Wednesday with Norway still the favourites but everyone still thinking that this could just be their year.
All games are live via the Bet365 live streaming service or via the IHF’s own subscription channel.
So, without further ado, let’s have a look at those quarter finals (all start times are UK):
4.30pm Brazil v Hungary
Brazil look good in every sense apart from fashion and the bookies are making them odds-on favourites for this despite the Hungarians’ clearer pedigree (although you have to go back to the 1960s for their world title). Neither side was unduly worried in their Round of 16 match and Brazil have yet to lose in the tournament. It’s hard to disagree with the bookies.
4.30pm Poland v France
Poland staged a stunning second half come back to see off Romania and have played some nice handball through the tournament but they will surely come unstuck here. France’s potential undoing would be to focus too much on their next game (presumably against Norway) and we have seen in the past that their play can become directionless. But they should win comfortably.
7.15pm Denmark v Germany
Too close to call. Denmark ousted Montenegro whilst Germany saw off Angola. Germany were impressive in their groups but Denmark have a tenacity that makes them hard to put away. The bookies can’t decide but lean, slightly, to Denmark. A result either way wouldn’t be a surprise.
7.15pm Serbia v Norway
If this was being played anywhere else you’d back Norway without thinking but, as it is, the atmosphere and the passion the Serbs play with count for something. Norway should still have enough but if Serbia can keep it close or even get ahead then it could be interesting.
Hopefully, broadband permitting, Handball Views will be back with a recap on Wednesday evening and a look ahead to the semi finals. Do leave comments below about anything that’s taken your notice during the world championship so far.
With apologies for life getting in the way of updating this blog for the past few days of the tournament …
Wednesday’s action at the Women’s World Championship was centred on Groups A and B who, at the end of the day, had completed four of their five matches.
And in Group A, that’s all that is needed to confirm who the four qualifiers for the Round of 16 are. South Korea booked their passage with a brutal 51:20 win over Paraguay and the Netherlands then did the same by recording their second tournament, this time over DR Congo. The day’s final game saw two already qualified teams face off. France and Montengro played a bizarrely low-scoring match that ended 17:16.
In Group B, Brazil made it four wins from four with a 24:20 victory over Japan. This followed their resolute victory over Serbia which marked them out as dark horses. China beat Algeria 27:25 but will need an unlikely victory over Serbia to have any chance of progressing. In the last match, Denmark and Serbia had a bit of an arm wrestle but Serbia, riding their loud support once more, eventually ran out winners by 23:22.
The matches for the 12th December are (predicted winners in bold) below. All matches are live over on Bet365 live streaming with the first game throwing off at 1.45pm (UK).
Paraguay v Spain
Poland v Argentina
Angola v Norway
Australia v Czech Republic
Germany v Tunisia
Romania v Hungary
Already qualified teams are in italics.
After two match days two of the groups are starting to take shape with the most pleasing aspect of it all for the home fans being that their girls are two-from-two. So, let’s wrap up what happened today and look ahead to tomorrow:
Let’s start in Group B because that’s where the crowd’s attention is most keenly focused. Brazil were up first in Niš and followed up their comfortable win over Algeria with another one over China. This time they did the damage mostly in the second half rather than the first but took it home 34:21 – Fernanda da Silva taking her tournament tally to 18 goals. Serbia were in the hall next – and the crowd swelled from 200 to about 4,000 – and they rampaged past Algeria mixing confident attack with solid defence. They were 18:6 up at the break and kept going for a 34:14 win – every goal cheered by the raucous crowd as if it had just won the title. Lastly it was Japan and Denmark. In 2011 when they met in the World Championship it took extra time to separate them. Denmark started this time by demolishing China, Japan were edged out in the tournament opener by Serbia. Today’s game started as a throwback to 2011 with the teams level at the half – Denmark took the spoils though, winning 29:25.
This all leaves Brazil, Serbia and Denmark with 100% records and presumably confident of progressing. In contrast, Japan, China and Algeria are without any points to their name. Of those three it’s Japan who look the most likely to take the fourth and final qualifying spot.
Back to Group A which began today with a bit of welcome non-European success. South Korea rode a strong first half performance to outlast the Netherlands 29:26 and record their first points. Next up was the possible mismatch of the tournament as DR Congo faced European champions Montenegro. It didn’t end well as Congo really struggled to find space for shooting and at full time it was 35:9 – Bulatović adding 5 goals to her opening day 9. And lastly. we had the battle of the blue, white and red flags as Dominican Republic faced France. It started well for the Dominicans – they were only 5:3 down when I switched on for a bit, and ‘only’ 4:10 at the break. France rotated a lot and had 11 different scorers but were still able to run out 27:10 winners.
So, the standings for Group A are now France and Montenegro ahead of the pack with 4 points, South Korea and the Netherlands have 2 points, Dominican Republic and DR Congo have zero points. The smart money probably says that the group will settle to look like that by the end.
Tomorrow sees Groups C and D take to the court. In Group C Angola have a second opportunity to beat South American opposition – having taken down Argentina they’ll be strong favourites against the notably weaker Paraguay. Spain lost their opening encounter to Norway but should still have too much for Poland – and the day is rounded off by Argentina facing Norway. I’ll eat your hat if Norway lose that one.
It could all be one-way traffic in Group D as well. Tunisia weren’t that impressive in losing to Romania and this time they have the tougher test of Hungary to stand up to. This is followed by Germany’s probable victory over the Czech Republic – although Germany’s opener against Australia was probably too much of a stroll to judge their overall strength. Lastly, it is Australia who played with passion if not guile in their opening game against Romania who will surely be far too strong for them.
Remember, you can legally watch this over at livestream.tv for the privilege of paying the IHF a stunning £40. The alternative is to watch for whatever you have in a Bet365 account and click on livestreaming – all the matches are there. There are illegal alternatives but make sure your anti-virus is up to date.
And, finally, over on YouTube highlights of the days are appearing the morning after. That’s everything compressed into just under 10 mins. The link for those is here.
A veritable feast of handball saw results pretty much go as expected but if there was a lack of surprises there was no shortage of skill and effort – and, pleasingly, the venues looked an awful lot fuller than when Serbia staged the women’s Euro 2012.
Anyway, here’s how it all shook down:
In Group A, European champions had to work hard to overcome the challenge from South Korea. The Koreans opened out a lead early in the first half and it was 11-11 at the break. Montenegro eventually winning 24:22 but the game’s top scorer was Sun Hee Woo of Korea. Elsewhere in the group France overwhelmed DR Congo 31:13 (with Christianne Mwasese Mwange getting 9 of those 13) and Netherlands did the same to the Dominican Republic by 44:21.
We already knew that Group B had started with a win for the hometown Serbs over Japan. That was followed today by Brazil hitting the front early against Algeria (up by 7 after 15 minutes; 21:7 at half time) before finally running out 36:20 winners. The last game saw Denmark put on a show against China. The opening few minutes was reasonably even but by half time the Danes were showing their class and the second half was one-way traffice. The final score was 44:21. China finished bottom of their group in 2011 with a -63 points difference – they actually need to improve to avoid that this time.
Group C started with a dominant performance from Angola who turned a pretty tight first half into a comfortable 33:23 victory over Argentina. The fact that the Angolans were 100% from their six 7m shots shows both how good they got shooting-wise but also how they harried the Argentinians into errors in the second half in particular. This is was then followed by an even more dominant showing from Poland as more than a dozen of their team got on the scoresheet as they spanked Paraguay 40:6. Katarzyna Koniuszaniec top-scored with 8. The big match in Group C was between 2011 champions Norway and 2011 bronze medalists Spain – and it did turn out to be a nicely close affair. Neither team will feel they played anything like their best in a match where nobody was able to establish control. A 7m penalty two minutes from the end gave Norway a 2 point lead and that they maintained when Spain had their own 7m saved a minute later. In the end it finished 22:20 both teams will have better days and are in no danger of not making the knock out rounds anyway.
Hungary are likely to be challengers come the end of the tournament and they started strongly today in Group D with the woman who crops up in all the photos, Anita Görbicz, grabbing 9 as they stormed past the Czech Republic 35:27. It was also a dominant performance from Germany but they were up against the minnows from Australia – final score 36:15, although Australia deserve a lot of credit especially for how they took the game to the Germans in the opening twenty minutes. In the last group D game, Romania were far too strong for Tunisia without being particularly impressive in winning 27:17.
Groups A and B are in action on Sunday. In Group A, it’s South Korea v Netherlands followed by DR Congo v Montenegro, and then lastly it’s Dominican Republic v France. Over in Group B, they have China v Brazil, then Algeria v Serbia, wrap up with Japan v Denmark.