10/01/2020

EHF EURO 2020 hosts enter the competition

GROUP B, D & F PREVIEW: Austria, Sweden and Norway are all hoping for a positive start to their home tournament when they start their EHF EURO 2020 campaigns on Friday

Hosts Austria will open their EHF EURO 2020 campaign in Vienna with a clash against the Czech Republic. Photo © Jure Erzen / kolektiff

All eyes will be on Sweden when they throw off against Switzerland in the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg. Hopes are high that the Swedes will secure their fifth EHF EURO title, but the Swiss underdogs are hoping for a continuation of their European dream.

Group F action will begin earlier on in a potentially crucial match between Slovenia and Poland, which could make or break both sides’ tournaments.

In similar fashion, Austria, against the Czech Republic, and Norway against Bosnia & Herzegovina, have the potential to start the EHF EURO with an immediate win.

In the other Group B and D matches, North Macedonia and France look like favourites against Ukraine and Portugal, but will have to remain careful as the first game at a EURO is always a tricky one.

GROUP B

Czech Republic vs Austria
Friday 10 January, 18:15 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • the neighbours go head-to-head for only the second time in competitive action with Austria winning the sole previous meeting at EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark
  • the 30:20 victory in 2014 remains Austria’s biggest victory at an EHF EURO
  • joint hosts Austria are competing at their fourth EHF EURO, all since 2010 when they also hosted
  • the Czechs are lining up for their 10th appearance, two years after reaching their joint-highest finish of sixth at EHF EURO 2018
  • THW Kiel teammates Nikola Bilyk (Austria) and Pavel Horak (Czech Republic) could appear on opposing sides for the first at international level

North Macedonia vs Ukraine
Friday 10 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • the meeting will be the fifth between the two in history but the first time at an EHF EURO
  • both nations have won one game each, with two matches finishing in a draw – including their last meeting, a 27:27 draw during an EHF EURO 2018 qualifier in Ukraine in June 2017
  • North Macedonia are making their fifth successive appearance at an EHF EURO, finishing 11th at EHF EURO 2018, while Ukraine will be making their first appearance at an EHF EURO since finishing in 16th place at EHF EURO 2010 in Austria
  • Ukraine will be looking to end a 14-year wait for a victory at EHF EURO having exited EHF EURO 2018 with three defeats
  • it will be Macedonian coach Danilo Brestovac’s first ever competitive match in charge of the national team at an EHF EURO event after been appointed as coach in March 2019

GROUP D

France vs Portugal
Friday 10 January, 18:15 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • this is the third time in less than a year that the two sides have met. France and Portugal played against each other in the EHF EURO 2020 qualifications, and each won one match
  • the last time France and Portugal played against each other in a final tournament was at the world championship 2001, where France won in the Last 16 phase, 23:18
  • none of the players from the current Portuguese team has ever played in a final tournament
  • best ranking for Portugal at an EHF EURO was 7th in 2000, while France won the competition three times (2006, 2010, 2014)
  • prior to the EHF EURO, France won against Serbia and lost to Denmark in the Golden League, while Portugal defeated Russia and Poland and lost to EHF EURO titleholders Spain in a friendly tournament in Torrevieja

Norway vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Friday 10 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • 2020 is the second time Norway have hosted the EHF EURO; they previously hosted in 2008 when they finished sixth
  • Norway and Bosnia & Herzegovina have only played against each other twice before. In the EHF EURO 2006 qualification play-offs, Norway won one game while the second ended in a draw
  • this game will be the first for Bosnia & Herzegovina in an EHF EURO
  • Norway have played eight EHF EURO final tournaments including the last seven, but have never won a medal
  • during their preparation, Norway recorded a loss to Denmark and a win against Serbia, while Bosnia & Herzegovina drew with Croatia after being defeated by Qatar

GROUP F

Slovenia vs Poland
Friday 10 January,18:15 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • coach Ljubomir Vranjes will make his official debut for Slovenia after taking over from Veselin Vujovic in December 2019
  • with only two teams per group progressing to the main round, the game could prove pivotal for both sides, as the winner will take an important advantage
  • the Polish squad is one of the youngest in the competition, boasting an average age of 25.2 years at the EHF EURO 2020
  • the two teams have met eight times, with Slovenia taking four wins and Poland three, while they drew when they met at the EHF EURO 2010

Switzerland vs Sweden
Friday 10 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Switzerland will make their comeback at the EHF EURO after a 14-year hiatus
  • Sweden’s eighth conceded goal at the EHF EURO 2020 will be their 2,000th at the EHF EURO. Only Croatia, France, Spain and Germany have conceded more goals, but they also played more games
  • EHF EURO 2018 MVP, centre back Jim Gottfridsson, will be Sweden’s new captain, taking over from retired Niclas Ekberg
  • Sweden’s only left-handed right back, Albin Lagergren, missed the last friendly game against Egypt last Sunday, after a minor injury, but will be on court against Switzerland
  • the two sides have met seven times, with Sweden taking six wins, including a 35:24 win at the EHF EURO 2004
written by Andrew Barringer, Kevin Domas, Adrian Costeiu / jh