Tagged: preview

A look ahead to Wednesday’s six matches at the World Championship

Macedonia play Russia today. Wear sunglasses and ear defenders.

We’re now on to Match Day 4 for Groups A and B.  After today things may be settled for some in terms of elimination and progression.  Remember that it’s the top four from six who make it to the knock out rounds – and that if you want to watch you’ll have to do it online as there’s no UK TV bothering to show any of the tournament.

Group A begins with Brazil against Tunisia at 3pm.  The Brazilians have a solitary win against their rivals Argentina to their name whereas their opponents scared France before beating Germany and Montenegro.  If it goes to form this should be the game that secures Tunisia’s passage to the knock out matches.  That’s followed at 5.30m by a must win game for Montenegro against Germany.  The Montenegrin men would have been hoping to emulate their female compatriots but three losses from three means they need to beat Germany today and then do the same against Brazil.  I don’t fancy their chances against a German side that hasn’t looked great so far but must surely improve.  Last up in Granollers at 7.45pm France’s leisurely jaunt into the elimination rounds continues with what should be a comfortable win against Argentina.

Meanwhile in Seville the three games in Group B start with Macedonia v Russia at 2.45pm.  Both teams have played two and lost one and with a group containing Chile and Qatar that should be more than enough to see them into the next round as one of the top four in the group.  I don’t expect fireworks but the match should be close.  At 5pm it is the confrontation between the aforementioned basement pair.  Qatar are hosting the next World Championship and given that they don’t seem to have had too many issues in finding the net I’d make them slight favourites today.  The bookies and people who know what they’re talking about may disagree.  Finally, at 7.15pm, the group’s top two meet.  Denmark have three from three compared to Icelands two and one record.  Iceland’s loss against Russia came when they lost focus in the final stages of the match.  I wouldn’t be surprised with something similar today: a tight game which the Danes win by staying the distance better.


Day 4 of the World Championship – Spain return to action … and previews of all the rest …

It lacks a kangaroo. Australia play Hungary today.

Another day at the World Championship and another six game schedule.  This time our attention turns to Groups C and D who play their second batch of matches.  As a reminder for those in the UK you can (legally) watch in one of two ways: you can pay £40 to livehandball.tv (about whom we are not hearing positives) or you can deposit any amount in a Bet365 account and watch there.  There are of course other ways but you should probably check your anti-virus software before trying them.  Anyway, suitably chastened by how yesterday turned out for our predictions, here are our thoughts on today’s games.

Group C begins at 2.45pm (UK) with the match-up between South Korea and Slovenia.  According to those chaps at Handball Wettpoint you have to go back to 2011 for South Korea’s last victory over a European side and they have lost against Slovenia every time they’ve met …  but I still live in hope of a competitive match.  At 5pm it’s Belarus against Serbia and anything other than a Serb win will be something of a surprise.  Belarus lost to Poland last time out whereas Serbia made short work of the Koreans.  Finally, at 7.15pm the finale of the day sees Poland play Saudi Arabia.  It is apparently the first time the two sides have met in a competitive fixture.  Poland should win comfortably.

Over in Madrid the hosts Spain are second in the triple bill.  Fans of #hispanos will have to watch Croatia power past Algeria at 3.45pm before getting to see their boys do the same against Egypt at 6pm.  The end of what should be a predictable day in the group comes at 8.15pm when Hungary (who scored more than 30 against Egypt) play Australia (who conceded more than 30 against Croatia).  The bookies aren’t even taking bets on the outcome of the match.

2013 Men’s World Championship. The basics and where to watch.

How’s your stamina?  Twenty-four teams are about to set forth and play approximately 1,754 handball matches in just over a fortnight at the end of which they will be ranked from places 1-24 and we will have a World Champion. But, before we get started and with the usual caveats that Handball Views isn’t known for its accuracy or prediction abilities, here are some facts, stats and what to look out for in the tournament.

So what is this then?
This is the World Championship.  Since 1993 it’s been held every two years but it has a history stretching back to 1938 when Germany beat a soon-to-be-anschlussed Austria as well as Sweden and Denmark.  That tournament and its successors (starting in 1954) played a major role in establishing the indoor court form of handball as the dominant version of the game (or so it says on Wikipedia).
Three teams have won the title four times – Sweden, France and Romania – and France are the current champions.  The 2013 Championships is Spain’s first go at hosting and the 2015 event will be held in Qatar.

Who’s In
Everybody.  Apart from Great Britain who were knocked out in a pre-qualification tournament by Austria.  Austria then got their comeuppance against Macedonia so they’re not there either.  But loads of other teams are.  France are there as champions, Spain as hosts and they are joined by 12 other European sides including 2012 Euro champs Denmark.  The other ten countries come from Oceania (this is always Australia), Asia (South Korea, Qatar and Saudi Arabia), America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile) and Africa (Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt).

Who’s the favourite
After an officially disappointing Euro 2012, France redeemed themselves by taking Olympics gold.  European champions Denmark were eliminated in the Olympic quarter finals (by Sweden, who didn’t even qualify for this).  So it’s quite open.  Spain will expect a boost by being the host nation.  Take your pick from those three … and Croatia.  Following too much soccer has also told me that you can never rule out the Germans – although they do come in at 15/1.  The most fancied non-European side is South Korea and Australia the rankest of rank outsiders.

How is this all decided
The initial round-robin stage is four groups of six with each side (obviously) having five matches.  Four of those six then qualify for the round of 16 and we’re straight into knock-out matches.  The bottom two go into placement matches.  Winners from each round progress through to the final – and at each stage losers go to ranking ties.  The first match is in Madrid on 11 January (Spain v Algeria at 6pm UK) and the final is in Barcelona on 27 January.

How can I watch
Now, this could be complicated.  There’s no confirmed television coverage in the UK, not even any late night highlights tucked away on British Eurosport 2.  There’s also no handy YouTube or Laola1 stream like for the European Championships or EHF Champions League.  The IHF have sent this tournament over to livehandball.tv and if you want to watch there you’ll have to pay but as of today the subscribe function there isn’t working.
The legal alternative, which may not be to everyone’s taste is, to watch via the live streaming at Bet365. There’s no commentary (usually) and it’s very much not big screen HD but for £1 in your account you will get to see all the matches live.

[EDIT: The subscription link at livehandball.tv is now working. A subscription for the tournament will cost you £40 – all matches will feature English commentary. And presumably a butler.]

Who will win
Handball Views is going out on a limb to back the hometown boys of Spain to take the title. We apologise in advance for dooming them to failure before the tournament has even started.

If you have any deep thoughts about the upcoming matches or ideas about who will win do let me know in the comments below …

Women’s Euro 2012 – the basics and where to watch …

https://i0.wp.com/www.handball-planet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/euro2012_logo.pngSo it’s back off to Serbia, land of Handball Fantasy, for the second handball Euro 2012 to be held there. It was the men earlier in the year and now it is the women. Norway are defending champions and favourites, as one might expect, and Handball Views remains even after its long break, ignorant and wildly inaccurate … but’s lets cast our eye over the upcoming championship.

Four preliminary groups of four (Groups A-D) contest the opening round with the last placed team being eliminated following this opening round robin. The top three from Groups A and B then enter Group I and the top three from C and D go into Group II. They then play three more games, one each against teams who qualified from the ‘other’ preliminary group. Points accrued against the five other teams in the Group are totalled – and the top two make in through to the semi finals.

This all makes a lot more sense once the tournament starts.

Norway qualified as Greatest Team on the Planet (TM) and by being holders. The other 15 had to actually qualify. Netherlands should have been hosts with an automatic spot but when they withdrew their spot was taken by the already-qualified Serbia.

Who will be knocked out first
Given the terrifyingly accurate record of Handball Views you might want to avoid betting your house on our opinion but we think Ukraine will be bottom of Group A, Sweden at the foot of a frighteningly close Group B, Croatia will exit Group C and Iceland bidding adieu from Group D.

Who will win the title
Norway. France will come second. Montenegro might rattle them a bit.

Where and when can I watch it?
It’s all LIVE on the EHF YouTube channel here. Matches start on 4 December and the final is on 16 December at 4pm UK.

Is Handball Views going to be covering it?
We’ll be trying to get ourselves near enough to a working computer with broadband to provide reviews of each day. As ever, your comments are appreciated!

How can I get in the mood?
You might want to compare the treatment given to promotion between the men’s and women’s tournaments. The top video is the song for the women’s; underneath it’s the men’s. Note that only one seems to want to show the sport first.

Let’s talk IHF Super Globe 2012

This now-annual gathering in Qatar is possibly one of the richest prizes in club handball but, like a lot of comparable ‘world club’ events in other sports, it has the feeling of not quite being a proper competition.  THW Kiel won it in 2011 but did not include it when talking about their all-conquering 2011/12 trophy-laden season.  

That said, for the clubs set to tilt at Kiel and Athletico Madrid there will be little room for such doubts.  As we have seen on this site, Sydney University may be amateurs but they are taking it very seriously indeed.  Not as seriously as Al-Sadd, one of the two Qatari teams playing in Doha this week, who have signed on loan eight players from Montpellier to see them through the tournament.  That’s French champions Montpellier.  You might have thought it would have been easier to invite the actual club over instead.

The other participants this year are Mudhar of Saudi Arabia, Brazil’s Sao Bernardo, Al-Zamalek of Egypt and Qatari wild-card Al-Jeish.

But, anyway, leaving aside any doubts about validity Handball Views will go with the flow and presume that the champions will come from Europe once more, as they have in each of the tournaments since the event became annual in 2010.  We’ll be slightly adventurous in predicting glory for the Spanish rather than the German Zebras.

The tournament starts on 27 August with group matches (Sydney University playing Mudhar is up first) with the championship final on 1 September.

Preview of the Olympic Final: France v Sweden

So it has come down to this.  Where once were twelve, now there are two.  Today’s final in the incongruously-named Basketball Arena will be between two sides who played in their semi finals as if it were their destiny to be in gold medal game.  There the similarity ends because France are current Olympic and World champions and Sweden have not won a major title in a decade.

Defence, in particular goalkeeping, won the day in the both semi finals: Mattais Andersson stopped 13 shots as Sweden blocked Hungary but Thierry Omeyer topped that by saving 19 of 41 shots against Croatia.  He was particularly effective in the opening ten minutes as France built a comfortable lead that meant that the Croats were always chasing the game.

Despite the similarities in the building blocks of their semi final victories it is hard to see past France who will surely have too many weapons for Sweden.  For Sweden to win they will need Omeyer to have an off day, they will need somehow to get a steady flow of fast breaks (they had 6 against Hungary, scoring 4; France allowed Croatia only one) and they will also need to up their solidity at the back.  France are not Hungary, they will be harder to tempt into rushing their game.  France can also spread their scoring personnel more broadly than Sweden.

But this is a final and strange things happen in finals.  That said, something beyond strange will need to happen for France to lose and so my prediction is that France will hit the front early and stay there, winning by 4.

Preview of the Olympic Final: Norway v Montenegro

Norway v Montenegro, 8.30pm (BBC Olympics 6, Sky Channel 455 and online)

It’s the day of reckoning for Norway and Montenegro: the prize-winning veterans and the newest nation and the block.  Norway are, as the commentators never tire of saying, the current Olympic, World and European champions.  Montenegro, on the other hand, are not.

Montenegro finished 11th in last year’s World Championship, losing 28-27 to Norway in the group stages.  Nor have they troubled the medals in their two European championship appearances.  That said. all but three of their team play for Budućnost who just so happen to have won the EHF Champions League in 2012, knocking out the Norwegian giants Larvik on the way.  It goes without saying that for Montenegro to be in with a shout they will need Bojana Popovic (playing her final match before retirement) to be at the top of her game, controlling the attacks, and for Katarina Bulatovic to get opportunities to bullet in her 7m shots.  The defence we can expect to be physical.

Norway haven’t really looked like champions so far.  They qualified fourth out of their group and then had to overturn a half-time deficit to see off Brazil in the quarter finals.  The Koreans who they beat by 6 in the semi final were plagued by injuries.  But they are in the final and the title is theirs to defend.  If Montenegro need to rely on their steady build-ups and cool heads Norway will surely need to get their ridiculously effective fast-breaks to work (8/10 saw off Brazil, against Korea it was a mere 2/3).  With that weapon they may stun Montenegro into hurrying their otherwise methodical game.  A repeat of Katrine Haraldsen’s 52% save percentage probably wouldn’t go amiss either.

Google Translate has a Montenegrin newspaper describing their team’s appearance in the final as being the most significant achievement in their country’s short history; when Norway won the World Championship in 2011 it broke television viewing records.  This game matters and it should be a final that lives up to it.

My prediction?  Norway by 3.

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.