The day of the quarter finals ended in high drama with the match between Sweden and Russia being settled at the very end of extra time by two penalties. Both were legitimate (as much as you can tell in real time on an internet stream) but that didn’t stop the sense of injustice for the victims. Sweden were the unlucky ones – going down 31:30 after a compelling match. They chose often to defend with five on the line and one out blocking – and in extra time the Russians exploited that gap. There really wasn’t much to choose between them though and this really was a high quality game.
The most one-sided of the quarter finals was, possibly surprisingly, the one between France and Norway. The Norwegians owned a 17:5 half time lead and could afford to only win the second half by a goal, running out 32:19 winners. In the other matches, the non-European adventure is over as Japan couldn’t hold a half time lead against Denmark, losing 25:31 and Romania were too strong throughout for Hungary.
The semi finals will be played on 25 August and will be Romania v Denmark and Russia v Norway.
Still want to see some reasonably top-level handball in the narrow window between the end of the Olympics and the start of the club season? Well, cast your internet feed in the direction of Montenegro as the official site of the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship will be live-streaming the games from this year’s competition which starts today.
There have been three iterations of this tournament so far and, remarkably, the nine medals available in that time have been won by eight different countries with only Denmark (winners in 2006, bronze in 2008) claiming two. The current holders are Sweden whereas France have lost in the bronze medal match in every single edition of the tournament.
Twenty countries are competing this time around beginning with a round-robin of four groups of five with the top two in each progressing to the quarter finals. Day 1 sees eight matches, most of which are probably foregone conclusions (e.g. Netherlands are 1/5000 to beat Paraguay) but the match between Portugal and Angola (1500 BST) looks intriguing. As for who will win the tournament I’m going for the hosts who seem to have a slightly easier group than some other big-name countries and will then fly to the final inspired by the exploits of their senior counterparts in London.
And France will lose the bronze medal match as that’s the law in these championships.
The official page with link to live stream is here.
And the wiki page with the fixtures laid our nicely is here.