15/12/2020

Gritty Croatia seal glorious first-ever semi-final berth

GROUP II REVIEW: A 5:0 run to start the second half lifted Croatia to their first ever semi-final berth, after a convincing 23:20 win against Germany

Tea Pijevic saved half the shots coming her way as Croatia beat Germany. Photo © Stanko Gruden / kolektiff

They could have lost by one and still qualify for the semi-finals, but this is not the way Croatia are doing things.

The biggest surprise of the competition secured their first ever final weekend berth, with a 23:20 win against Germany.

GROUP II

Croatia vs Germany 23:20 (12:12)

  • the two defences were at their best in the first half, but Germany’s right back Julia Maidhof converted all her penalties to score seven of Germany’s 12 goals 
  • a 5:0 run to start the second half including three goals from left back Camila Micijevic, with Germany unable to score for nearly 10 minutes, was Croatia’s backbone to seal the win
  • Croatian goalkeeper Tea Pijevic was the Grundfos Player of the Match, stopping 16 shots for a 50 per cent saving efficiency
  • Germany lost for the first time against Croatia in four games at the EHF EURO, putting a stop to a nine-game unbeaten streak against the Croatian side in all competitions
  • Germany are out of the tournament after this loss, as they finished fourth in the group, with four points. Reigning world champions the Netherlands will play the 5/6 placement match on Friday

Superlatives galore for Croatia

Croatia will bask in the spotlight after their fifth win in six games at the EHF EURO 2020, as they have already secured the best placement for their country in the history of the competition.

Finishing second in group II, behind Norway, the Croatian side will now face the first-placed team in group I in the semi-final, which means Nenad Sostaric’s side will play against title-holders France or 2018 finalists Russia.

Match reaction

Croatia coach Nenad Sostaric said: “I am speechless. The way we played in this game and the way we played defence throughout the tournament is unbelievable. This game was like a quarter-final and we won it. We are part of the history of Croatian handball."

Germany left wing Ina Großmann said: "We will definitely need some time to find the words to say what has happened. We did not do, what we wanted to play. We could not stop the long Croatian attacks, we did not play as fast as we had wanted. I guess we had problems with our heads, and I really cannot explain what happened after the break.”

written by Adrian Costeiu / jh