Reigning champions versus semi-final debutants

SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW: The first semi-final on Friday evening sees Croatia debuting in this stage, as they aim to topple the defending title holders France

Semi-final debutants Croatia face reigning champions France. Photo © kolektiff

The opening semi-final at the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 sees the fairy-tale team of the tournament, Croatia, take on the defending title holders France.

For Croatia, it is the first semi-final participation in any major international championship, while France are well-seasoned in the final stages, having played every international final available in handball and boasting a collection of 10 medals total. Prior to the 2020 edition, Croatia had lost all matches at the two previous EHF EUROs.

Together with Norway, Croatia as a nation are making history, as it is the first time ever that two of the same countries have contested both the Men’s and Women’s EHF EURO semi-finals in the same year.


France vs Croatia
Friday 18 December, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Croatia recorded their longest winning run in history at the EHF EURO on the path to the semi-finals, taking four victories before losing to Norway in the main round – their only loss so far
  • it is France’s third consecutive EHF EURO semi-final, and fifth overall. Aside from their title in 2018, they have won three bronze medals – in 2016, 2006 and 2002
  • Croatia’s best previous ranking at the EHF EURO was sixth, achieved in 2008 in North Macedonia and in 1996 in Denmark
  • Croatia’s top scorer, Camila Micijevic, ranks joint-fourth on the top scorer list at the EHF EURO 2020, with 30 goals. The 194 cm left back will be a key weapon against France’s trademark defence
  • France right back Alexandra Lacrabère is her side’s top scorer, with 25 goals. She is two goals shy of reaching the 150 mark at EHF EURO events and is the all-time top scorer for France at the EURO
  • goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud will reach 40 EHF EURO matches with the semi-final, while Estelle Nze Minko and Grace Zaadi will play their 30th. In contrast, Katarina Jezic has played the most EURO matches for Croatia with 15 ahead of the semi-final

Olivier Krumbholz, France coach: "Sometimes the French team is not perfect for 60 minutes, but we know that for semi-finals and finals we can play much better. I hope that we play the best games at the European championship in the semi-final, because it’s necessary."

Nenad Sostaric, Croatia coach: "What happened here is amazing. First I had to show them that they are able to play with any team. When you are playing any sport, you have to learn how to win. When you learn how to win, when you have this winning spirit, then every next step is easier for you. When they get this winning spirit, it became more and more easy. Their confidence was going up and as I told, the chemistry is incredible."



written by Courtney Gahan / jh