14/01/2020

The brains, the brick wall and taking flight: round 2’s round-up in emojis

WHAT EMOJIS SAY: An action-packed round 2 of the EHF EURO 2020 saw powerhouses on their way out, players reaching new heights and patterns beginning to emerge

France and their coach Didier Dinart are on their way home from the EHF EURO 2020. Photo © Stanko Gruden / kolektiff

After 24 superb EHF EURO 2020 games there are numbers, patterns and great individual results emerging. Let’s see who was who in the second round of this tournament, expressed through emojis.

France and Denmark have won the EHF EURO five times between them, and since the preliminary round format was introduced in 2002 both have always progressed to the main round.

With France eliminated on Sunday after losing to Norway in their worst-ever result in the competition, Denmark are now fighting for survival. Despite topping the power rankings before the tournament, the world and Olympic champions have only one point after two games following a loss to Iceland and a draw with Hungary. They need to win their last game against Russia, and they also need Iceland to beat Hungary in order to progress.

Who else is going home? Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were eliminated after their second matches, while Montenegro, Serbia, Netherlands and Latvia are also out after the third matches in their groups.

France's departure follows a lacklustre two games, with few actions of note - although they have still had their flashes of brilliance, such as this goal by Luc Abalo against Portugal.

 

Switzerland were one of the competition’s underdogs before play started – but they had one crucial weapon in playmaker Andre Schmid.

Schmid is one of the best centre backs of the last decade, able to surprise opponents with powerful shots from all angles. The 36-year old Rhein-Neckar Löwen player was crucial to Switzerland’s seven-goal win against Poland, their largest ever at the EHF EURO, when he scored 15 times.

But Schmid is more than a simple shooter, he is the catalyst of the Swiss team. Every ball flows through him and after two games he had made by far the largest number of passes in the EHF EURO 2020. Schmid fed his teammates 483 times, making 41 more passes than second-placed Jim Gottfridsson of Sweden.

 

There has been a fair number of in-flight goals at the EHF EURO 2020, with teams using the eye-catching play to surprise their opponents, even when they are playing a man down. ‘Flying Dutchman’ Jeffrey Boomhouwer had already been picked out as an in-flight specialist before the tournament, and in the Netherlands’ final game against Spain he duly obliged with a masterpiece finish.

While the Netherlands lost the match, Boomhouwer’s magnificent goal is certain to appear in the top goals of the tournament.

 

They say defence wins championships. After two rounds, two teams have conceded the fewest number of goals – Sweden and Slovenia, both letting just 42 balls into their nets.

Key to their success was the performance of their goalkeepers. Swedish shot-stopper Andreas Palicka has been the best goalkeeper in the tournament so far, with an otherworldly 50 per cent save efficiency – 21 saves from 42 shots.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Nebojsa Grahovac has also been impressive, boasting a 40 per cent efficiency with 12 saves. Denmark’s Niklas Landin and Slovenia’s Klemen Ferlin have the highest number of saves after two rounds, both having blocked 23 shots, but Ferlin’s saves have arguably been more consistent and bailed his team out in crucial moments.

Spain's perfect start to EHF EURO 2020 has been helped big time by the performances of superb goalkeeper duo Gonzalo Perez de Vargas and Rodrigo Corrales, who spoke to the (Un)informed Handball Hour about each other's performances and their handball marriage.

Meanwhile, ehf-euro.com journalist Björn Pazen joined us to explain what's happening to Germany as well as looking at some of the championship's other big stories.

written by Adrian Costeiu / jh