15/12/2020

2018 finalists and 2020 hosts set for last fight for semi-finals

GROUP I PREVIEW: The last day of main round action in Herning sees title holders France, 2018 silver medallists Russia, and Denmark fighting for the two semi-final tickets

Denmark are through if they beat Russia. Photo © Jure Erzen / kolektiff

In group I, it all comes down to the two finalists from the previous EHF EURO, France and Russia, and hosts of the 2020 edition, Denmark. The three are the only sides still in the semi-final race ahead of the last day of main round matches, and whichever team does not reach the penultimate phase will take the group’s spot in the placement match.

France’s match against Sweden will inform Russia and Denmark, as a loss for France would open the door for both Russia and Denmark to proceed. If France win or draw, Denmark and Russia will be fighting for the second ticket.

Aside from the semi-final race, group I sees another battle – for history, as Isabelle Gulldén and Carmen Martin are locked in third on the all-time top scorer standings. Both can reach the impressive 200-goal mark at EHF EURO events on Tuesday night and their goals will decide who settles into third position as their teams’ respective campaigns come to an end.

GROUP I

Montenegro vs Spain
Tuesday 15 December, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • neither team can reach the semi-finals or the placement match, but both are fighting to end their EURO campaign on a positive note ahead of the Olympic qualification tournaments in March
  • Spain captain Carmen Martin needs just two goals to reach the 200-mark at EHF EURO events, which will make her only the third player in history to hit that milestone after Cristina Neagu (259 ahead of Romania’s Monday match) and Ágnes Farkas (205)
  • captain Jovanka Radicevic will take Montenegro’s individual all-time record for EHF EURO matches played to 35 in this game, after rising to the top of the list in Denmark
  • the teams have met three times before at EHF EURO events, with one win for Spain and two for Montenegro, including one in the main round on the path to their title in 2012

Carlos Viver, Spain coach: “We always prepare to win every game. We always try to win every game. Of course we like to go step by step, but we knew today [versus Denmark] it was impossible to reach the semi-finals, but of course we would like to play as good as we can and win against Montenegro so we can be as high up in the ranking of this championship.”

Bobana Klikovac, Montenegro line player: “We played very good for all 60 minutes [versus Sweden] and I am really happy that we did not disappoint our coach, our fans and ourselves. We showed what we can do on the court and we have the energy in ourselves. We also want to win the last game in this group, against Spain, so I am really hoping we can deliver this type of performance again.”

France vs Sweden
Tuesday 15 December, 18:15 CET, live on EHFTV

  • title-holders France are in a strong position regarding the semi-final race – a win or a draw against Sweden will take them to their third consecutive participation in the penultimate stage at the EURO
  • Sweden can no longer reach the semi-finals or placement game, but are eager to show their best performance and clinch their first main round win nonetheless
  • like Spain’s Carmen Martin, Isabelle Gulldén enters the court just two goals shy of the 200 mark at EHF EURO events. The two won the EHF Champions League together in 2016, playing for CSM Bucuresti
  • the sides have met 17 times in official matches before, with 10 wins for France, two draws and five victories for Sweden. The last game, at the EURO 2018, ended in a draw and the three most recent prior to that finished with French wins by two goals
  • Sweden’s last win against France was in the main round at the EHF EURO 2014, on the road to their bronze medal

Olivier Krumbholz, France coach: “The Swedish team is quite revamped with new players who form a good amalgamation with the old ones. There are very good pivots. There are also girls who have a lot of punch, it will be necessary to defend well. This team is very close to the final weekend and it is difficult to cross the threshold. Most of the time, we win, but they are always difficult matches.”

Tomas Axnér, Sweden coach: “We have to learn to sort out and choose the right things to do. But we are improving. This was a game [versus Montenegro] that was by far not the best we have played in this tournament. We have to look at a couple of things and try to make a better performance against France on Tuesday.”

Denmark vs Russia
Tuesday 15 December, 20:30 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both teams remain in the semi-final race and this is the most decisive clash that will determine who progresses from group I
  • if Denmark win, they are through to the semi-finals, while a loss or draw will send them out regardless of the result in the earlier match
  • Russia progress with a win, draw and even a loss in some scenarios. If both Russia and France are defeated, semi-final qualification depends on goal difference between the two EHF EURO 2018 finalists, with Russia in the better position
  • the teams have a long mutual history, with a total of 19 previous encounters – seven wins for Denmark, 10 for Russia and two draws. But Denmark have won five out of eight EURO clashes against Russia
  • in the EHF EURO 2018 main round, Russia clearly defeated Denmark 32:21

Ambros Martin, Russia coach: “In some ways, this Scandinavian team is similar to France. The Danes also performed unsuccessfully in Kumamoto and, of course, strive to reestablish themselves at the home European championship. The team is physically well prepared. The players are tall and powerful; almost all of them are in the Champions League. Denmark has an aggressive defence and quick counter attacks, so it is necessary to act carefully in a positional attack, to avoid losses.”

Jesper Jensen, Denmark coach: “I think we are in a very good physical and mental condition right now, concerning that we are in game five.

“We are happy but also looking forward to what we can call a quarter-final against Russia.”

written by Courtney Gahan / jh