08/01/2020

Curtain raiser for two debutants, crucial opener in Graz

PREVIEW: Netherlands and Latvia will play their first ever EHF EURO matches in Trondheim, while Belarus and Serbia duel for important points

Viran Morros in action during the EHF EURO 2018 final, which Spain won - can he and his team repeat the feat? Photo © EHF / Stanko Gruden

All eyes on Graz and Trondheim: the 14th Men’s EHF EURO, the first one hosted by three nations, will throw off in Austria and Norway on Thursday evening.

In the competitive group A, the match between Belarus and Serbia may ultimately prove pivotal for both teams, while Croatia are strong favourites in the Balkan derby against Montenegro.

And in group C, EHF EURO debutants Netherlands and Latvia will be tested by the 2016 and 2018 European champions Germany and Spain.

GROUP A

Belarus vs Serbia
Thursday 9 January, 18:15 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • the teams have met four times in all competitions, with Belarus winning twice, Serbia once and one game ending in a draw
  • their last meeting took place at the EHF EURO 2018, when Belarus won 32:27 in the main round
  • Belarus finished 10th in EHF EURO 2016 and 2018; Serbia won silver in 2012, but failed to finish above 12th place in the next three tournaments
  • just before the New Year, Belarus won a friendly tournament in Poland, beating the home side, United Arab Emirates and Spain’s B team.
  • in contrast, Serbia lost two games at the Golden League in Metz against France and Norway in early January

Croatia vs Montenegro
Thursday 9 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • this Balkan derby will take place for the fifth time in history; Croatia have recorded three wins, and Montenegro one
  • between 2004 and 2016, Croatia reached the semi-finals in seven straight EHF EUROs, but failed to do so in 2018 and finished fifth
  • Montenegro play their fifth EHF EURO, but they are yet to earn their maiden win at the final tournament
  • in early January, Croatia won a friendly tournament at home, beating Qatar and splitting points with Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Montenegro took part in a tournament in Slovenia where they lost both games, against the home side and North Macedonia

GROUP C

Germany vs Netherlands
Thursday 9 January, 18:15 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • Germany was the only team with six wins from six EHF EURO 2020 qualification matches
  • the last time the two sides clashed was 27 years ago in the qualification play-offs for the very first EHF EURO. Germany won both encounters (18:17, 18:12)
  • Germany are missing six back court players due to injuries, including three left-handers (Fabian Wiede, Steffen Weinhold, Franz Semper), while the Dutch do not have defence boss Fabian van Olphen
  • six Dutch players nominated for EHF EURO 2020 currently play for German clubs; others, including goalkeeper Gerrie Eijlers, have played in Germany previously
  • Dutch head coach Erlingur Richardsson knows Germany best, as he coached Füchse Berlin in 2015/16

Spain vs Latvia
Thursday 9 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • Spain arrive in Trondheim as defending champions, record EHF EURO medallists and winners of the first edition of the EHF EURO Cup
  • Latvia qualified second in their group behind Slovenia for their very first EHF EURO
  • the two sides have met four times before, including in the qualifiers for the first EHF EURO 1994; Spain have won all four matches
  • Spain won their preparation tournament in Torrevieja with three victories against Poland, Portugal and Russia
  • nine Latvian players in the EHF EURO 2020 squad play abroad, most of them in Germany
written by Sergey Nikolaev and Björn Pazen / jh