26/01/2020

All-star Team: Duvnjak scoops MVP

NEWS: Find out which players made it into the EHF EURO 2020 All-star Team

After over 20,000 votes from fans using the official EHF EURO 2020 app and a healthy debate from a panel of EHF experts, the line-up for the EHF EURO 2020 All-star Team has been chosen.

Six nations are represented in the team, which includes four players from finalists Spain and Croatia.

Croatian captain Domagoj Duvnjak, who made the All-star Team for the EHF EURO 2018, is named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player this time around.

Norwegian star Sander Sagosen, who broke the record of the most goals scored at a single EHF EURO with 65 goals in the bronze medal match against Portugal on Saturday, is named in the All-star Team for the third successive EURO.

Goalkeeper: Gonzalo Perez de Vargas (Spain)

In the position with arguably the stiffest competition for a place, Spanish number one Perez de Vargas gets the nod between the posts. The tournament has been packed with memorable performances from goalkeepers, but Perez de Vargas’ sensational form has been a major factor behind Spain’s success. Prior to the final the stopper won three Grundfos Player of the Match awards and the Barça man acted as a superb last line of defence. Just to tip the scales in his favour, the Spaniard also weighed in with two goals from two attempts.

Left wing: Magnus Joendal (Norway)

The Flensburg-Handewitt left wing was one of the big beneficiaries of the form and creativity of Sander Sagosen, finding the back of the net 36 times – the highest goal-scorer in the Norway squad behind Sagosen. The 31-year-old’s partnership on the left with Sagosen helped Christian Berge’s side reach the semi-finals, with Joendal scoring 12 goals via passes from his teammate.

Left back: Sander Sagosen (Norway)

The PSG man seemed destined to reach his first EHF EURO final – until Croatia’s late show in Friday’s epic semi-final. The 24-year-old was, as expected, an essential component of a dynamic Norwegian side that came so close to reaching the gold medal match. With a record 65 goals at a single EHF EURO – beating Macedonian Kiril Lazarov’s record of 61 goals in 2012 – the left back was in sensational form from the first throw off. If that was not enough, Sagosen also assisted 53 goals and was involved in more goals than any other player at the tournament – a phenomenal 118.

Centre back: Igor Karacic (Croatia)

Dramatic last-gasp victories have been a feature of Croatia’s run to the EHF EURO 2020 final, in particular their epic 25:24 main round win over Germany in Vienna. Karacic was at the heart of that sensational comeback, winning the player of the match performance and scoring the final goal in the dying seconds to clinch an absolutely crucial two points in his team’s bid to qualify out of group I. The 31-year-old PGE Vive Kielce playmaker has been a model of consistency at the heart of a Croatian side that have a displayed a breathtaking, never-say-die attitude throughout the competition.

Line player: Bence Banhidi (Hungary)

At one point Hungary threatened to be serious contenders for a place at the final weekend in Stockholm after dumping pre-tournament favourites Denmark out at the preliminary round stage before recording a tense one-goal victory over Slovenia in their second main round match. The hero of the win over the Slovenians was Banhidi, who collected the Grundfos player of the match award after top-scoring with nine goals from 10 shots. The giant pivot bossed the action from the line with 32 goals and, although his efforts ultimately proved in vain as his side narrowly missed out on Stockholm after losing to Portugal in their final game, the 24-year-old can look back on a fine tournamen

Right back: Jorge Maqueda (Spain)

The Spanish team is blessed with experienced heads all over the court which have helped propel Jordi Ribera’s team to a third successive EHF EURO final. In 31-year-old Maqueda, Spain have a man who has used his handball brain and physical presence to great effect to drive the team forward once more. The MOL-Pick Szeged right back has pitched in with 29 goals and has impressed with a number of cool, calm and collected displays.

Right wing: Blaz Janc (Slovenia)

Slovenia’s talented young right wing showed throughout the competition just why Barça have moved to snap up the PGE Vive Kielce star in the summer. The 23-year-old’s contribution from the right helped Slovenia on their path to the final weekend that saw them finish in fourth place. No other Slovenian played more minutes at the tournament, and his deadly eye for goal saw him score 31 times. 

Best defender: Hendrik Pekeler (Germany)

We will never know how a full-strength Germany side would have fared at EHF EURO 2020 had injures not robbed head coach Christian Prokop of a number of key players. However, among the frustration of missing out on a place in the semi-finals came Pekeler’s determined displays in defence. Although playing through the pain barrier with a niggling Achilles problem, the THW Kiel defender put his body on the line throughout the championship, hauling the Germans through a sequence of tough fixtures to eventually earn Prokop’s side fifth place. 

MVP: Domagoj Duvnjak (Croatia)

The Croatian captain dragged his team kicking and screaming into their first EHF EURO final since 2010 with a string of commanding and heroic performances throughout the tournament. The THW Kiel back court ace’s display in Croatia’s marathon semi-final win over Norway, which included eight goals and the crucial penalty at the end of normal time, inspired Lino Cervar’s side to the gold medal match. The heartbeat and leader of the team, Duvnjak’s overall game of breaking up play and motivating his teammates have played an instrumental role in Croatia’s success.

written by Andrew Barringer / jh