13/01/2020

Montenegro and Belarus in battle for main round; all open in Trondheim

GROUPS A, C & E PREVIEW: Monday will see a day of decisions in groups A and C, with the race for the main round still very much on in Graz and Trondheim. In Malmö, Denmark are eager to avoid a second defeat

Can Montenegro maintain the form they found against Serbia for their final EHF EURO 2020 preliminary round match? Photo © Jozo Cabraja / kolektiff

Monday will see the final decisions made in groups A and C, as the eight teams play their last preliminary round encounters. Meanwhile in Malmö, group E continue their EHF EURO 2020 campaigns with their second clashes.

In group A in Graz, the situation is quite simple. Croatia have secured first place and a ticket to the main round; Serbia are eliminated; while Montenegro and Belarus will play for second place. A draw is enough for Belarus to go through, while Montenegro only need a victory.

In group C in Trondheim, all four teams can still make it to the main round. Prior to the final match day, Spain are on top with four points before they face the Netherlands, who, like Germany, are on two points.

All remains open in group E, where one of the biggest upsets of the EHF EURO 2020 occurred on Saturday night when Iceland overthrew world champions Denmark. On Monday, Denmark aim to recover when they meet Hungary, while Iceland will face a Russian side eager for their first win.

GROUP A

Montenegro vs Belarus
Monday 13 January, 18:15 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • on Saturday, Montenegro wrote history by claiming their first-ever win at an EHF EURO, 22:21 against Serbia
  • in their turn, Belarus lost against Croatia by eight goals, 31:23
  • Belarus have a goal difference advantage which will be decisive in the event of a draw, sending them through to the main round
  • Montenegro line player Branko Kankaras will play against six of his Belarusian teammates from HC Meshkov Brest; Montenegro’s captain Vasko Sevaljevic also had a spell in Belarus in 2012/13 when he played for Dinamo Minsk
  • the two teams have met three times, all in 2014; Belarus won twice, including their only meeting at the EHF EURO, and Montenegro once

Serbia vs Croatia
Monday 13 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • with two defeats against Belarus and Montenegro, Serbia lost a chance to progress
  • by beating Montenegro and Belarus Croatia became the first team to progress to the main round
  • Croatia’s Zlatko Horvat will play his 50th match at the EHF EURO – only Igor Vori has played more European championship matches for Croatia (54) 
  • the two Balkan teams have met twice at EHF EURO finals, with Serbia winning the semi-final in 2012 (26:22) and Croatia taking the upper hand in a group match in 2018 (32:22)
  • more recently, their roads crossed in the EHF EURO 2020 qualification, when the match in Serbia ended in a 25:25 draw before Croatia won 27:23 at home three days later

GROUP C

Latvia vs Germany
Monday 13 January, 18:15 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • Germany need a win to be sure of main round qualification; if they draw or lose progression will depend on the result of the Netherlands vs Spain match
  • Germany won both previous duels against Latvia in the EHF EURO 2012 qualification, by 10 and 18 goals
  • the second of these matches was the last for legendary German head coach Heiner Brand
  • four Latvian players are signed by German clubs, although none play in the Bundesliga top tier
  • the two coaches – Armands Uscins and Christian Prokop – only live less than 50km away from each other in Germany

Netherlands vs Spain
Monday 13 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • the Netherlands and Spain have met six times, with Spain winning all encounters – but they have not played each other since EHF EURO 2010 qualification, when Spain won 32:29
  • with another victory Spain would have their sixth EHF EURO win in a row, matching their record from 2006
  • Spain are fielding 12 players from VELUX EHF Champions League clubs, but Netherlands have only one – Flensburg's Niels Versteijnen (currently on loan to Germany's Bad Schwartau)
  • Spanish wing Ferran Sole will face his Dutch Fenix Toulouse teammate Luc Steins
  • the two countries faced off in the Women’s IHF world championship final in December 2019, with the Netherlands winning their first title

GROUP E

Iceland vs Russia
Monday 13 January, 18:15 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Iceland secured a thrilling win against Denmark to start their campaign, while Russia aim to recover from a loss to Hungary on Saturday
  • after scoring 10 against Denmark, Iceland back Aron Palmarsson needs two goals to reach 100 in his EHF EURO career
  • it is the first official clash between these sides since 2013, and the first EHF EURO encounter in 10 years
  • overall, Russia have won nine against Iceland, while the Nordic side count four victories. At EHF EUROs, Iceland have won two and Russia one
  • in a high-scoring mutual encounter at the EHF EURO 2006 in Switzerland, two left wings set the record for most goals against the other side – and both are involved in Monday’s clash: Iceland captain Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson tallied 11 in that match, while Russia coach Eduard Koksharov scored eight

Denmark vs Hungary
Monday 13 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • current Olympic and world title holders Denmark are under pressure after their opening loss against Iceland; Hungary aim for a second win following victory over Russia
  • Hungary have not beaten Denmark since the World Championship 2017, when they were responsible for the surprise elimination of the newly crowned Olympic gold medallists in the last 16
  • Hungary goalkeeper Roland Mikler ranks among the best at the EHF EURO 2020 for penalties, saving two from the seven-metre line against Russia
  • with his first goal, Denmark’s Rasmus Lauge Schmidt will reach 70 career goals at EHF EURO events
  • Denmark’s 16th goal will take them to 2,500 scored at EHF EUROs
written by Sergey Nikolaev, Björn Pazen, Courtney Gahan / jh