So … Norway are through to the semi finals. They’ve wobbled a bit but it’s never been in doubt. There isn’t any other team in the competition that has their consistency or their annoyingly strong mix of goalkeeping, defence, break-speed, attacking options and shooting power. Also through are Montenegro who, on their day, should be able to beat Norway but who managed to lose to Germany and Hungary, another side who should be able to take the game to Norway, but who have yet to dominate their matches in quite the same way.
The last semi final spot is between Denmark, Serbia and France. And, with the caveat that I usually get these things wrong, this is how I understand the permutations:
If Denmark lose to Norway, they are out and either Serbia or France will qualify.
If Denmark draw with Norway, they are out and either Serbia or France will qualify.
If Denmark beat Norway, they will go through if France beat Serbia.
If Serbia beat France they will go through.
If Serbia and France draw then Serbia will go through.
If France beat Serbia and Norway beat Denmark then France will go through.
If France beat Serbia and Denmark beat Norway then Denmark will go through.
I’d put your house (silly to bet my own house) on Serbia.
I’ll have match times and woefully inaccurate predictions for the matches tomorrow.
It’s a busy day in Euro 2012 as both main round groups have a full set of fixtures to get through. As ever, it’s all live on YouTube with most games have commentary in English to help the ignorant (me) out …
Looking over Group I, and it’s a big day for Serbia, Denmark and France. They all need to win and hope the others lose. Denmark are more in control with 4 points and they face a Serbia who will be bouyed by the home crowd but bruised by their inability to take all the points against Sweden. France will hope to move themselves up to 4 points with a win over already-out Czech Republic and there’s no real reason to expect them not to. Sweden play Norway in the day’s first game. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see an ‘upset’ Swede win here but Norway have played with steel in every match so far and they may not relax until qualification is actually confirmed.
Schedule (predicted winners in bold):
3.10pm (UK): Czech Republic v France; 5.10pm Norway v Sweden; 7.10pm Serbia v Denmark
Over in Group II and, similarly, everything could clearer are waters everywhere could become muddied. The strong Montenegro side are unbeaten and topn the group with 6 points. They face Germany who have had a heartbreaking tournament today. One almost hopes for a German win to restore pride but I really can’t see past another comfortable Montenegro performance. Spain and Russia face each other in a must-win game for both teams – and if they don’t win then they will have to face up to how disappointing this tournament has become for them. It’s the final match which really whets the appetite though as Romania and Hungary do battle – and the winner will have sole ownership of second spot in the table and be favourites for the semi-finals.
Schedule (predicted winners in bold)
3.10pm Spain v Russia (draw); Germany v Montenegro; Hungary v Romania
Regardless of the results everyone gets the day off tomorrow – the Main Round concludes with six more games on Thursday.
We knew Norway were good. We knew they were more than capable of solid defence, strong attack and fighting back. And now they’ve gone and beaten France so comfortably it makes you wonder how some bookies had them as favourites.
The final score was 30:19 – France scoring only 9 in the second half. Norway’s win was built on its trademark solidity, goalkeeper Katrine Haraldsen was in fine form, and backed up by seven goals from Linn Sulland and five from Linn-Kristin Koren. France tried hard for long stretches but could never get close enough. Barring something odd, Norway can now cruise to the semi final stage – France will presumably beat the Czech Republic but then face Serbia in the last match.
Behind Norway, things are a lot less clear over who will claim the other semi final spot. Serbia looked to be about to move into pole-position as they led Sweden 23:18 with 7 minutes to go but three goals from Linnea Torstenson and two from Ulrika Agren meant the match finished level at 23:23. Sweden had had their own five goal lead in the first half but this probably feels more like an opportunity missed for the Serbs.
The Czech Republic can be definite about their future in the tournament. They can’t qualify for the semi finals after a 33:30 loss to Denmark. They more than held their own but after falling two goals behind with quarter of an hour to go were never able to bridge the gap. Denmark were thankful to 10 goals from Ann Grete Norgaard and 20 saves from Sandra Toft. The Czechs actually had more shots in the match and are probably kicking themselves this morning.
Today there are games from both groups … predictions for those coming up later …
So, the Preliminary Round gives way to the Main Round and it’s starting to become just that bit clearer who’s looking strong in Serbia …
After the first day’s Main Round action it is Montengro who are sitting pretty atop Group I. The Olympic silver-medallists looked to have done enough early on against Hungary to have a comfortable second half – leading 15:10 at the interval. But by the 50th minute the scores were level at 22:22 and it took two late goals from Katarina Bulatovic to give Montenegro the points with a 28:26 victory.
A clear margin of victory was what Romania enjoyed, somewhat surprisingly, against Spain. At one point the Romanians had a ten-point lead before they relaxed a bit – it finished 31:26. Spain’s biggest enemy seemed to be wayward shooting whereas Romania could call on seven goals apiece from Iulia Curea and Cristina Neagu. The result leaves Spain in a difficult position if they want to reach the semi finals – Romania will be looking for momentum.
The final match ended in a draw, which probably pleases no one but is a particular kicker for Germany who should have put the match away after building an early five goal lead. As it was, a frantic final minute in which both teams had potentially match-winning shots blocked, means both can claim either a point won or lost depending on mood. What it does mean is that neither is likely to progress to the semi final stages without something miraculous happening.
In today’s games the Czech Republic need to get something against Denmark if they are to have any hope of the semi finals, Norway and France renew their rivalry, and Serbia and Sweden will both be marking this as a must win game. Handball Views is going for wins for Denmark, Norway and Serbia. It all starts at 3.10pm UK, live on YouTube.
Croatia are making the short journey home, and Iceland the slightly longer journey home, after they both exited Serbia 2012 in the group stages. Croatia lost a close, low-scoring match against Germany with whom they finished level on points whereas the Icelands were gubbed by Russia and leave without getting off zero. The table for the main round now looks like this.
Today’s games finish the preliminary round (and are all live on YouTube in the UK). Norway and Sweden have already qualified.
Group A: 5.15pm (UK) Norway v Ukraine; 7.15pm Serbia v Czech Republic
Group B: 5.15pm Sweden v France; 7.15pm Denmark v Macedonia
Isabelle Gulldén, playing for Viborg
Today’s matches saw a mix of the predictable and the unexpected – and plenty of smiles across Scandinavia at full time. There were wins for Norway, Sweden and Denmark – and the hosts got to join the party as well.
The final standings in Group A may rest on how seriously Norway take their last game. They were off the boil today against Czech Republic, only hitting the front in the final few minutes having trailed throughout, and hanging on thanks to Katrine Haraldsen’s series of superb stops (including two from 7m) at the death. With a more predictable (although well-contested) win for Serbia in the earlier match it means that if Ukraine beat Norway, who have a beat of a reputation of not always being focused in the early rounds, they could qualify for the next stage ahead of the loser of Czech Republic v Serbia. Abacuses may be required but I’ll back the European, World and Olympic champions to render them unnecessary although a repeat performance by Czech goalkeeper Barbora Ranikova might cause the Serbs some nervous moments.
Unless something bizarre happens then Group B is easier to call. Macedonia were off the pace again today and so Sweden were able to make it two wins from two. 8 goals from Linnea Torstensson and 7 via Isabelle Gulldén gave the Swedes a comfortable 26:15 victory. The other match was a bit of a shock with this ‘transition’ Denmark team doing the business against France. The French looked almost unwilling to shoot at the end, despite having pulled their keeper, and so the Danes emerged 28:27 winners. Although a last second shot from France hit the bar but that would have been unfair on the ladies in red. Denmark should beat Macedonia which will render the result of the final match between France and Sweden irrelevant in terms of qualification – although obviously both will want points.
Friday’s matches (predicted victors in bold – all matches live in the UK on YouTube)
Group C: 5.15pm (UK) Hungary v Spain; 7.15pm Croatia v Germany
Group D: 5.05pm Russia v Iceland; 7.15pm Romania v Montenegro
Permeatations (although please understand I may be wrong on all this) Hungary and Spain are through so the final qualifier will come from the Croatia v Germany match. Germany need to overturn a three-goal points difference in the table.
Romania and Montenegro have qualified. If Iceland beat Russia they will progress; a draw or win will be fine for the Russians.
Image: Sasa Boskovic grabbing a female in Serbia 2012
If you’re a fan of Spain or Montenegro then day two of Euro 2012 was a very good day. Those two teams maintained their winning ways and will now be looking forward to the main round. However, if you’re a fan of Germany or Iceland then you might want to look away now as with two losses from two games their tournament may be over very soon.
Before we get to that, let’s get to a nice bit of scandal brewing away. In Norway’s win over Serbia on day one the home coach, Saša Bošković twice interfered with the movement of Norwegian player Linn Sulland. You can read all about it over at Team Handball News and Handball Planet. And if you like your outrage in Norwegian you could always start here.
Back to yesterday’s matches … In Group C, Spain and Croatia played out a tense game in which the Spanish always seemed to have the edge, thanks in major part to seven goals from Marta Mangue. Confusingly Spain were in white and Croatia in red. In the later game, Hungary broke the hearts of a determined Germany side, overcoming a 14:11 half time deficit to run out 24:21 winners – three unanswered goals in the final five minutes ensuring the win. Germany now need to beat Croatia to go through – and by a big margin. That seems unlikely.
Iceland lost, as expected, to Romania but it was a lot closer than anticipated and a lot scrappier too. The Romanians are through though with three points, sitting behind Montenegro who dominated Russia before slipping back at the end. The Olympic silver medallists were up 20:14 at half time and noticeably relaxed in the second half. The winner of the Iceland v Russia match will progress in third place – a draw would put Russia through.
Today’s fixtures with the predicted winners in bold:
Group A: 5.15pm (UK) Serbia v Ukraine; Czech Republic v Norway
Group B: 5.15pm Macedonia v Sweden; Denmark v France