05/01/2020

Spain continue good form while brothers do battle

NEWS ROUND-UP: With just four days remaining until the start of the EHF EURO 2020, Saturday was another busy day for the national teams

Joan Cañellas was in good form for Spain on Saturday in the build-up to the EHF EURO 2020. (Photo ©: Sasa Pahic Szabo / kolektiff)

Friendly matches and tournaments, Balkan derbies and a brothers’ duel, a remarkable comeback and injury concerns – Saturday had a lot to offer for those who are looking forward to the start of the EHF EURO 2020.

Hosts win again in Torrelavega

In Spain, the home team took the leading position in the tournament in Torrelavega, as they have the maximum four points after two matches. After beating Portugal on Friday, Jordi Ribera’s side defeated Poland 35:31. Pick Szeged’s Joan Cañellas was Spain’s best scorer in Saturday’s game with seven goals.

At the same tournament, Portugal beat Russia in an exciting battle, 27:25. The Russian team had an impressive start and led 5:0, then 8:3, yet Portugal quickly turned things around and led by two goals (13:11) at half-time. Now both sides have two points, while Poland have zero, and on Sunday, the decisive games will take place as Spain face Russia, and Portugal take on Poland.

Three-goal victories for Swiss and Dutch

The home team also top the table of the traditional Yellow Cup in Winterthur. On Saturday, Switzerland claimed their second straight victory, beating Tunisia 29:26. Marvin Lier, the left wing who moved from the local side Pfadi Winterthur to SG Flensburg-Handewitt last October, led the Swiss attack with seven goals.

Also at the Yellow Cup, Netherlands defeated Ukraine 30:27. Ukraine’s Aleksandr Tilte became the top scorer of the game with eight goals, while Jerry Ephrahim netted six times for the Dutch.

Karacic brothers face each other

Some friendly matches saw the clashes of Balkan teams. The game between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina ended in a spectacular draw (33:33), where notably the Karacic brothers played against each other. Igor Karacic was Croatia’s best scorer with seven goals, while his brother Ivan netted five times for the Bosnians.

In the other Balkan derby, Slovenia earned a confident victory against Montenegro, 37:22. The Slovenes’ advantage was already clear after the first half (17:9), and they did not slow down after the break. 

Bitter makes strong comeback

Two other EHF EURO 2020 participants met in Mannheim, where Germany were too strong for Iceland, winning 33:25. At half-time, Christian Prokop’s team led by just three goals (16:13), yet they accelerated after the break and overall left a good impression

THW 1898 Stuttgart’s goalkeeper Johannes Bitter made his comeback to the German team after 2030 days, as the 37-year-old replaced Andreas Wolff in the second half – and he contributed to his team’s success with a number of saves.

Lekai and Bodo doubtful for Hungary

In their last friendly game before the EHF EURO 2020, Hungary beat Czech Republic 27:24. Yet despite a good result, the head coach Istvan Gulyas has big concerns about centre back Mate Lekai and left back Richard Bodo. Both players, who are still recovering from injuries, missed the game on Saturday, and it looks like they will not be able to participate in the EHF EURO.

On Sunday, Gulyas will make his final decision, but the players’ chances of playing in the tournament are not high.

written by Sergey Nikolaev /at